Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors
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Fatality was the first known while using Tesla Autopilot.

By Reuters
July 1, 2016

(Reuters) – A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when it crashed and killed the driver in Florida in May, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for a truck driver involved in the accident with the Tesla, said his investigators had spoken to a witness who said the DVD player was playing a Harry Potter video after the accident, but he was unable to verify that beyond the witness account.

Officials said that a DVD player was found in the Tesla. “There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle,” said Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol in a telephone interview.

She said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage.

Paul Weekly of Tampa, the lawyer for the truck driver, said, “As to the video, there was a witness who came to the scene immediately after the accident occurred, and we can’t verify it at this point.

“But what we have been told is that he saw a Harry Potter video still playing when he got to the scene. Again, I can’t verify that.”

The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, of Palm Harbor near St. Petersburg, said the impact of the Model S “lifted the trailer up and jolted the heck out of it when he went under it. It sheared the top of the car right off.”

Weekley said that the top third of the Model S was sheared off the sedan while the rest of it went under the trailer and traveled another 700 feet on the road and 200 more feet off the paved surface before coming to rest.

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Weekley said the center console of the car was not seriously damaged, meaning that the electronic data recorder, the so-called “black box” for the car, should have been intact. The recorder had been removed from the Model S before his investigators were able to see it, he said.

The fatal crash has prompted a federal investigation of the Tesla’s Autopilot system and has added to the uncertainty over whether the incident could put a roadblock in the way of wider deployment of automated driving systems.

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