Tesla driver responsible for tragic Model S crash in California

Tesla driver responsible for tragic Model S crash in California

A Tesla driver who was involved in a tragic crash in California back in 2019 has been sentenced to two years of probation after pleading no contest to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. The case is significant as it is believed to be the first felony prosecution in the United States involving a driver who was using a driver-assist system like Autopilot.

Kevin George Aziz Riad was driving a Tesla Model S in 2019 when it ran a red light, resulting in a fatal collision with another car in Gardena. Prosecutors revealed during a preliminary hearing in March 2022 that Riad’s Tesla ran a red light at Vermont Avenue and collided with a Honda Civic while traveling at a speed of 74 mph. Riad was believed to be operating the Tesla on Autopilot when the crash occurred.

The crash resulted in the deaths of Gilberto Alcazar Lopez, 40, and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, 39. Relatives of the victims mentioned that the couple was on their first date at the time of the crash. Riad and his girlfriend, who was a passenger in the ill-fated Tesla, suffered minor injuries and were hospitalized.

As noted in a report from the Daily Breeze, Riad entered a no contest plea on June 22, and he immediately received his sentence. His sentence included probation, 31 days of work for Caltrans or another approved group, 100 hours of community service, 90 days of house arrest, and participation in a hospital and morgue program.

Tatevik Tigranyan, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, stated that if Riad violates his probation, he could face a four-year prison sentence.

During the legal proceedings, the prosecution highlighted that Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control in the ill-fated Model S were engaged at the time of the collision. A Tesla engineer who testified in the case noted that sensors in the vehicle showed that Riad had his hand on the steering wheel. However, crash data showed that no brakes were applied in the six minutes prior to the accident. Tesla constantly reminds its customers to pay close attention to the road when using features like Autopilot or Full Self-Driving to avoid potential accidents.

Riad’s defense attorney, Arthur Barens, had previously argued for the charges to be reduced to misdemeanors, asserting that any negligence by Riad would have resulted in a citation had the fatal crash not occurred. However, the judge disagreed with the defense attorney’s argument.

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