Tesla Crash Driver Was Watching ‘Harry Potter,’ Says Witness

By Jim Liao
Jim Liao
Jim Liao
July 5, 2016 Updated: July 5, 2016

Frank Baressi, the driver of the truck that a Tesla on autopilot hit, has said he heard from the crashed vehicle “‘Harry Potter’ playing on the TV screen.” 

Baressi, 62, told The Associated Press he heard the movie playing after the crash when he went to offer assistance—suggesting the Tesla driver was watching the movie at the time of the crash. Baressi clarified that he didn’t physically see the movie being played.

Baressi said the driver was driving so fast that Baressi didn’t see him and that the careening car “snapped a telephone pole a quarter-mile down the road.”

Joshua D. Brown, an Ohio resident, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, while driving one of Tesla Motor’s Model S cars. He died when he crashed into a tractor-trailer after the car didn’t activate its brakes due to a camera reading error.

Brown had a history of speeding—he had eight speeding tickets over a six-year span, according to AP.

Brown’s accident was initially announced by Tesla in June. Tesla called the accident the first fatality in over 130 million miles of autopiloting, and stressed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation was only a “preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations.”

The NHTSA confirmed it received Tesla’s report in a statement. “NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation will examine the design and performance of the automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.” 

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk also took to Twitter to offer his sympathy, “Our condolences for the tragic loss.” 

Brown was known for being an enthusiastic promotor of his Tesla vehicle, which he nicknamed “Tessy.”

In April, he uploaded a video that has been viewed three million times showing his autopiloted vehicle avoiding a side collision from a boom lift trick. In the video description, Brown says of Tessy, “hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent. It has done many, many amazing things, but this was one of the more interesting things caught on the dashcam.”

Jim Liao