A twin-engine aircraft crashed into power lines outside of Palo Alto, California, today, killing all three occupants — reportedly employees of Tesla Motors.
KTVU reports that the Cessna 310 plane, which was headed south, took off in extremely foggy conditions, and crashed shortly after takeoff. Witnesses described hearing two loud booms. One of the aircraft’s wings broke off and hit the back of a nearby house. The crash has reportedly also taken out power within a radius of the site.
Sources tell the TV station that the three men on board the plane were employees with Tesla, with the pilot reportedly being a “high-ranking official” at the company. The San Francisco Chronicle says the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer at the EV company. It is still unknown at this point if he was flying the plane, or if he was even on board. A witness told KTVU that Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, who is himself an accomplished pilot, was onboard, but the FAA has not confirmed who the passengers were. Contrary to some speculation based on his ownership of a plane, CEO Elon Musk was not onboard.
According to reports released on Thursday, February 18, the three Tesla employees on board the plane were senior electrical engineer Doug Bourn, electrical engineer Andrew Ingram, and Brian M. Finn, a senior interactive electronics manager, but Tesla and authorities have not confirmed these reports yet.
“Three Tesla employees were on board a plane that crashed in East Palo Alto early this morning,” Musk wrote in a statement. “We are withholding their identities as we work with the relevant authorities to notify the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us.”
Tesla representatives won’t comment on the accident until more information is known, only confirming that the three passengers were in fact Tesla employees. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the scene and cause of the accident.
Anonymous sources are now telling various news outlets that the passengers aboard the plane were two engineers and a manager, not the executives previously reported. Their plane was headed for Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles where Tesla rents space from Musk’s company Space X, though they may have been traveling to review a possibly location for the Model S sedan assembly plant.
We’ll continue to update this post as we get further details.
Source: KTVU, San Francisco Chronicle
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