1 dead after Tesla slams into fire truck on I-680 in Walnut Creek, officials say

Officials say the truck was struck by the Tesla Model S while blocking lanes from a previous accident that morning

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, February 19, 2023
1 dead after Tesla slams into fire truck in East Bay, officials say
One person is dead after slamming its Tesla into a fire truck Saturday morning, officials say.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- New details on a deadly crash in the East Bay which killed the driver of a Tesla and injured several firefighters Saturday morning in Walnut Creek. The CHP says the car's driver slammed into a firetruck which was on-scene of a traffic accident on Interstate 680.

Contra Costa County Fire Captain Chris DeMeo says his crew about to clear the scene of a non-injury accident on I-680 North in Walnut Creek early Saturday morning, when their fire engine was suddenly rocked.

The accident happened along I-680 at Treat Boulevard near Walnut Creek just before 4 a.m.

This is an image of a Tesla that allegedly crashed into a fire truck along I-680 in Contra Costa County on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.
This is an image of a Tesla that allegedly crashed into a fire truck along I-680 in Contra Costa County on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.
Contra Costa County Fire Department

"Very jolting. It didn't feel like it was real. All my equipment went forward," DeMeo said.

The Captain said their fire rig was struck by a Tesla likely traveling at high speed. The impact was so powerful, parts of the car went underneath the ladder truck. The stunned firefighters jumped into action.

"We're trying to cut these people out and save victims," DeMeo said.

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Sadly, the car's driver died at the scene and the passenger was taken to the hospital with critical injuries. The CHP says it's unclear if drugs or alcohol was a factor, and it's still unknown if the Tesla had its auto-pilot feature engaged.

While firefighters were working, another car on the freeway narrowly missed them. Four firefighters, including Capt. Demeo, went to the hospital.

"We were treated for lower back pain, one of my guys had a cut in the hand," DeMeo said.

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Most of the firefighters were back on duty by Saturday afternoon.

Despite its size, color and flashing lights, firefighters say it's not the first time a car has collided with one of its firetrucks.

"It's occurred multiple times. It happens so much throughout the U.S. that there's a national standard for how fire departments respond to accidents on the freeway," said Contra Costa County Assistant Fire Chief Lon Goetsch.

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The department says the fire crew followed that protocol, using the engine as a safety barrier, to protect other first responders on scene. They remind drivers it's the law to slow down and move over when approaching an accident scene. Captain DeMeo says his crew did what they were trained to do.

"The thing is I'm proud of my guys just as much as we were in an accident, they all jumped in and starting doing their job, go, go, go," he said.

If anyone witnessed it or the events leading up to it, please contact CHP Contra Costa in Martinez, (925) 646-4980.

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