Tesla futuristic door handles blamed for fatal crash

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Tesla Model S door handle

The futurist door handles on the Model S blamed for fatal crash

Omar Awan, a 48-year-old anesthesiologist from the United States died in a fatal accident in which a police officer was unable to pull the man to safety from his burning car because the futuristic door handles could not be easily accessed.

Mr Awan was driving his leased Tesla on the South Florida Parkway in February when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a palm tree. 

The tragic story came to light through a wrongful death lawsuit filed in a State Court in Broward County, Florida.

The police officer from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department tragically couldn’t open the doors because the handles were retracted flush with the body of the vehicle.

Tesla Model S handles

Bystanders watched helplessly as the policeman tried desperately to open the door of the car before the man was overcome as the car was engulfed in smoke and flames. It is alleged that the fire started with the electric car battery

The door handles of the Model S are flush with the car door and only pop-out when the car detects the key fob is nearby in a function they call “auto-present”. According to the lawsuit filed on October 10, the cause of death was smoke inhalation and that Mr Arwan had no internal injuries or broken bones:

“Fire engulfed the car and burned Dr Awan beyond recognition, all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors, and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk,” 

According to consumer reports in 2015, broken door handles were one of the most common problems with the Model S.

Due to the nature and composition of Electric Car batteries, Awan’s Tesla continued to burn for hours, reigniting several times even after firefighters had extinguished the flames and the car had been towed. 

The Model S has a lithium-ion battery which is highly flammable. The family of an 18-year-old who lost control of his Tesla at 116 miles per hour and crashed into a concrete wall last year blames an explosion of the battery for his death in an “entirely survivable” crash, according to a suit filed this month in state court in San Jose, California.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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