The Tesla that exploded

Police in Corvallis, Oregon, said Dylan Milota was high on marijuana when he crashed the 2019 Tesla S he was driving at more than 100 mph into a utility pole on Nov. 17, breaking the pole and spraying hundreds of small batteries through the windows of two nearby residences. One landed on a bed, starting a fire in the bedsheets, KMTR reported. A tire from the car struck the second story of a nearby apartment building so forcefully it broke water pipes inside the wall, destroying the bathroom on the other side and causing flooding in the lower level, police said. Citizens were warned not to pick up any stray batteries, which can stay hot for up to 24 hours and release toxic fumes. Milota fled on foot but was quickly apprehended and charged with various offenses.
From this week's Weird News

What’s weird to me is someone fleeing the scene on foot after a 100 mph collision with a utility pole. I’m not surprised with an accident caused by an intoxicated driver.

My old company made machine to assemble Tesla battery trays. I had a box of 1000 batteries in our lab. Who knew it was so dangerous? Never met Elon. But the guy I did deal with died in a plane crash with 2 other execs. 2008?

not just weird, but impressive! wow!

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I make it a practice to fact check the stuff I hear about in the news and what I learned was he was going 100 mph when he lost control. He may have slowed down considerably before the impact since the photo of the wreckage shows that he was skidding sideways on impact. The photo of the wrecked car looks like it was a survivable collision with little damage to the driver’s compartment. The ability to flee on foot seems entirely plausible to me after studying the photo.
Another factual error in that report is the statement that over 1000 “batteries” were strewn over the area of the wreck. A Tesla only has one battery consisting of about 7000 cells.



A side impact may mean that there was still considerable forward velocity, but not much sideward velocity, making damage much less than if it had been a head on collision with the pole.

Stopping distance increases with the square of the speed. The same distance to stop a car from 50 would only reduce the speed to around 70 from 100. An accident at 70 is still might damaging.

Whatever happened it’s clearly the jackass driver that’s at fault. If it was a gasoline fueled car I can imagine a big fire as well as flying debris.

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I’m amazed that Tesla didn’t catch fire. A friend of ours who owned a Tesla had a traffic accident which totaled the car because the battery caught on fire after the crash. Lithium-ion battery fires are no joke.
I have heard that it’s standard operating procedure to put any Tesla that’s been in a crash in a 48 hour quarantine in a safe spot lest latent damage to the battery causes a battery fire.

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We’ve been saying battery when we mean cell forever.


Dry cell manufacturers have been using the term battery incorrectly for over a hundred years. We had a lot of old Popular Science and Mechanic Illistrated magazines around when I was a kid. There was an advertisement with an endorsement for Everready flashlight “batteries” from a surviving officer of the Titanic.

Thousands of cells wired together. Imagine crushing them into tight bundle. All these wires compressed and shredding the insulation. Potential short circuit? I imagine so.

If a lithium ion cell reaches a critical temperature, it will internally short and burst into flames even without an external short and then overheat the cells next to it.

That was an error that was explained to us by my 9th Grade General Science teacher. It was a revelation to all of us, but when some members of the class continued to make that mistake throughout the term, Mrs. Marzullo was NOT happy.

The term “battery” predates the electric battery and it used to mean this.


I took batteries of tests when I was in school; my father fired batteries of guns when he was in the Navy.

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