Elon Musk’s email exchange with the father of a Tesla crash victim has revealed a gentler side to the billionaire known for his brash and controversial opinions. In emails to James Riley, the father of Barrett Riley who died in a Tesla crash in 2018, Musk shared the grief of losing his own child, reported Bloomberg Quint. Stating that there is nothing worse than losing one’s child, Musk wrote in the email, “My firstborn son died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat.” He was talking about Nevada Alexander Musk, his son who died at the age of a mere 10 weeks. Musk has rarely spoken publicly about the loss. A Riley vs Tesla case is set to go to trial this year.
In 2018, Barrett was driving a Tesla Model S when he lost control at 116 miles per hour, crashing into the wall of a house in Florida. The car went up in flames and both Barrett and his friend sitting in the passenger seat were killed. The aforementioned email exchange is from a court filing regarding a different wrongful death lawsuit.
Musk introduced a feature in Tesla cars wherein parents could easily control the maximum speed of the vehicles. It was dedicated in the memory of Barrett Riley. Two years since the email exchange, James Riley filed a product liability suit against Tesla. His complaint alleges that Barrett was killed not in the accident, but in the battery fire that followed it. He also added that he had asked Tesla to install a speed limiter in the car for his son’s safety but it was removed without his permission during servicing. Tesla denied the battery defect allegation and said that Barrett had himself returned to the service centre and asked for the speed limiter to be removed.
In a persistent issue for the automaker, Tesla vehicles are inexplicably slamming on their brakes for no reason, frightening owners and eliciting over 100 complaints to the federal government in the last three months alone, media reports say. Last October, Elon Musk on Twitter said that the company was forced to “roll back” version 10.3 of its Full Self-Driving beta software because of issues with forward-collision warnings and phantom braking, reports The Verge. But since then, the number of complaints about Tesla’s braking has spiked, reported IANS.