Alameda County

Tesla: Autopilot Was Not Engaged When Driver Veered Off Road Into East Bay Pond

Tesla said Wednesday that they have been able to recover enough data to confirm that autopilot was not engaged when a Bay Area driver veered off a road in a Model S, plunged into an East Bay pond and died.

"We have been able to recover enough data from the vehicle to confirm that Autopilot was not engaged at the time of this accident," Tesla said in a statement.

Tesla's autopilot system has come under the spotlight after two deadly crashes, including one in Mountain View this past March.

The most recent crash occurred sometime over the weekend when a 34-year-old man behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S crashed into a pond along Crow Canyon 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 Monday. 

"The vehicle was severly damaged...This is something again that is very tragic," CHP Officer Daniel Jacowitz said Monday. "The driver really didn't stand a chance in a way on this. It's sad. It really is."

It wasn't immediately known if alcohol or drugs played a role in the wreck, according to Jacowitz. It was 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 Monday. 

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, was 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."

Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said Monday there was still a lot of unknown reasons as to what caused the crash.

Leung's father told NBC Bay Area on Monday his son was always alert when using the autopilot 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.

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