Self-driving Tesla crashes into Florida deputy’s cruiser; underage teen cited

‘These kids are very lucky that no one was hurt,’ Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly says

A Tesla backs into a Flagler sheriff's cruiser during a traffic stop.

PALM COAST, Fla. – Two teens, ages 14 and 15, involved in a wrong-way crash with a Flagler County sheriff’s cruiser claimed the Tesla they were riding in was on autopilot when the crash occurred, officials said.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy on Friday conducted a traffic stop on a white 2018 Tesla when he saw it traveling on the wrong side of the road after it exited the Wawa gas station at State Road 100 in Palm Coast. The car came to a stop but then backed into the deputy’s patrol vehicle, sheriff’s officials said.

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No one was hurt, but the car sustained $300 in damage, officials said.

The deputy who conducted the stop said one of the teens was in front passenger seat and the other was in the back seat when he approached the car.

The teens said they were traveling from Charleston, South Carolina, to visit one of their fathers, according to the FCSO.

When asked who was driving, they both said the Tesla was driving itself in autopilot when it backed in to the patrol car, according to sheriff’s officials. Deputies said it was later determined that one of the teens was operating the car before putting it in autopilot, causing the crash.

Sheriff’s deputies called the parents of the teens, and the driver’s mother said she was unaware that her daughter left the state, and she thought her daughter was at her grandmother’s house, according to authorities.

The teen driver was issued a citation for driving without a license.

“These kids are very lucky that no one was hurt and their actions didn’t have more serious consequences,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “It doesn’t matter if you are driving a smart car, driving without a license is still against the law. I hope these kids have learned a valuable lesson and I am grateful that no one was hurt and only minimal damage occurred to their vehicle.”

The teens were taken to the Flagler County Palm Coast District 2 Office to meet with a Florida Department of Children’s and Families investigator and were left in DCF’s custody, officials said.

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