A toddler was trapped in a Tesla after its battery died without warning amid record heatwaves – ‘Safety comes last’ at Tesla, expert says

A 20-month-old girl was in Arizona recently Locked inside a Tesla Model Y after the car’s battery died, creating a “life-threatening situation” where firefighters had to break down the door with an ax to save her.

Renee Sanchez, the girl’s grandmother, put the girl in her car seat for a trip to the Phoenix Zoo. After closing the back door, Sanchez went to the front of her car to find that the door would not open: the car was dead.

“I couldn’t get in. My phone key wouldn’t unlock it. My card key wouldn’t unlock it,” she told the local news network. AZFamily.

Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said: luck A young child trapped in a car, in the Arizona heat, could become extremely vulnerable in 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, many children die in hot cars.

Sanchez, who faced what Brooks described as a “life-threatening” situation, had no choice but to call 911. Scottsdale firefighters rushed in, then became frustrated once they saw what type of vehicle it was.

“The first thing they said was, ‘Oh, it’s a Tesla.'” “We can’t ride in these cars,” Sanchez said. “And I said, ‘I don’t care if you have to cut my car in half. Just get it out.’

Firefighters broke through the window with an ax, climbed through the window, and pulled the little boy out of the car.

While the girl was “fine” for the first few minutes, she became extremely frightened and began crying during the commotion, Sanchez said. Rescuers gave her a beanie to calm her down once she got out of the car.

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After seeing that her granddaughter was okay, “then the anger came,” Sanchez said. “All the thoughts are, ‘Oh my God, this could have been so much worse.’

Its 12-volt battery, which powers the car’s electrical systems, died without warning. Tesla cars are supposed to have constant warning signs when their 12-volt battery is low, said Mike Klimkowski, an electric vehicle expert.

Simply turning off the battery “seems very strange,” he added.

A representative from Tesla’s service department confirmed to Sanchez that she had not actually received any warnings. Tesla did not respond luckComment requested at press time.

“Safety comes last”

there mechanism— described in Tesla’s online safety guide — for drivers to unlock their cars when they’re stuck outside, something neither Sanchez nor the firefighters who came to rescue her granddaughter were aware of. This involves opening a three-inch circle near the front of the vehicle called a toe cap, pulling out the cables inside, and connecting those cables to an external power source (such as a portable jump starter). This would allow the trunk lid to be opened, giving drivers access to the 12-volt battery, which they could then power.

For Klimkowski, who heads A Nonprofit Dedicated to teaching first responders about electric vehicle safety, the onus falls on firefighters for not knowing how to operate a Tesla. He claims that the process would have been faster and easier than hacking the car.

“It’s the fire department’s responsibility to educate themselves,” Klimkowski said. Tesla and most other automakers have an emergency response guide on their websites available to first responders. Klimkowski said the onus is not on those manufacturers to continue educating firefighters.

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However, he admits that local fire departments do not have enough specialized training to handle these incidents. That’s why he created his nonprofit: to provide resources for fire departments to get outside help and “move to the new world.”

Brooks, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, thinks it’s “ridiculous” to blame firefighters for not knowing how to unlock a car.

“It is not the firefighters’ fault that Tesla chose electronic door latches that do not have proper emergency safeguards,” he said.

Tesla has doors that can be opened manually when you’re inside the car and unable to get out, but they’re unmarked, unlike seat belts and airbags. This was Tesla’s choice to put “form over function,” Brooks said, and it was ultimately “unsafe.”

“When there is no federal standard that specifies how these vehicles are manufactured, Tesla rarely chooses safe methods,” Brooks noted. “They usually choose something glamorous: safety comes last.”

Brooks added that this incident contributed to a “comprehensive failure of Tesla’s safety culture.” Earlier this year, Tesla was forced to recall nearly 2.2 million vehicles in nearly every model sold since 2012. Last year, Angela Chao, the charging industry CEO and sister-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, died. After she drove her Tesla onto the highway. Lake and became trapped.

However, Klimkowski found it unfair to blame Tesla for the problem faced by all vehicles equipped with electric door release systems. He said Tesla is doing its best to make the toe cap clear and visible to first responders.

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But there are thousands of first responders, and at least 150 different types of vehicles; Firefighters can’t be expected to memorize safety procedures for every vehicle, Brooks said. Tesla shouldn’t hide its safety features for the sake of appearance.

For her part, Sanchez sided with Brooks’ camp, saying Tesla needs better emergency systems and more education for first responders. She was a former Tesla fan, but this episode alienated her from the company.

“I give Tesla props. When it works, it’s great. But when it doesn’t, it can be deadly,” Sanchez said.

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