A 34-year-old man behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S died after plunging into a pond along a rural road between San Ramon and Castro Valley, authorities said Monday morning.
Based on preliminary evidence, the driver — identified as Danville resident Keith Leung — appeared to veer from Crow Canyon Road just south of Bollinger Canyon Road near San Ramon, smash through a fence and crash into the pond, authorities said. It is not immediately clear if the vehicle's autopilot features were engaged at the time of the crash.
"The vehicle was severly damaged...This is something again that is very tragic," CHP Officer Daniel Jacowitz said. "The driver really didn't stand a chance in a way on this. It's sad. It really is."
It is unknown at this time if alcohol or drugs played a role in the wreck, according to Jacowitz. It is also unclear if Leung was speeding in the 35 mph zone. An investigation is ongoing.
Investigators do not know exactly when the solo-vehicle wreck occurred. The owner of the property where the Tesla crashed called at about 7:50 p.m. Sunday and told authorities that his fence was damaged and that a vehicle appeared to hurtle into the pond, according to the CHP.
CHP, the Alameda County Fire Department and a dive team with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department worked together to recover the car, which was found roughly 65 feet from the edge of the pond, Jacowitz said.
Leung's body and the car were pulled from the water early Monday. Leung was found seated in the driver's seat, Jacowitz said.
Christina Calara, Leung's friend, is having a tough time after learning of his passing.
"It's hard to believe this has happened," she said.
Calara said Leung was a musician.
"He loved music," she said. "It was absolutely his passion."
Jacowitz said the CHP at this point does not see a need to reach out to Tesla or the National Transportation Safety Board while it conducts its investigation.
"If they do reach out to us and they have questions, we'll try to give them the information that we can, but it's still an ongoing investigation," Jacowitz said.
Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said there is still a lot of unknown reasons as to what caused the crash.
One big question: Was the care in auto pilot mode? Tesla's autopilot system has come under fire after two deadly crashes, including one in Mountain View this past March.
Leung's father told NBC Bay Area on Monday his son was always alert when using the auto pilot function and usually used it only on the highway.
Tesla on Monday released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by this accident, and we are working to establish the facts and offer our full cooperation to local authorities. Tesla has not yet received any data from the car and does not know the facts of what occurred.”
Crow Canyon Road near Bollinger Canyon Road was closed as a result of the crash, but it later reopened Monday morning, according to the CHP.
Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to call the CHP.