Tesla driver blames 'new car smell' in fatal cyclist crash
The accident happened in November, and after a three-month investigation the Santa Cruz district attorney has decided to charge Jain with "misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter." As you could guess, there are still plenty of unresolved issues. Jain has said he "fell asleep" and there was nothing mechanically wrong with the car he had bought ten days before the incident. His attorney, however, says "he passed out while driving and still does not know what caused the accident," and that the Tesla "and all its component parts" must be thoroughly tested. The CHP tore the Tesla apart, standard practice in manslaughter cases, and, not having found anything amiss, declared the driver at fault. Observers, and especially cyclists, want to know why Jain was only charged with a misdemeanor, and why he hasn't yet been arrested. Some might ask why he didn't just roll down a window.
It will take the courts to decide - that's "courts," plural. In addition to the criminal case, Alper's family is suing Jain and Tesla, appearing to cover its bases with the new-car-smell defense by accusing the Model S of being "defective and unreasonably dangerous when used in a normal, intended and foreseeable manner." That seems like a stretch to us, but it's not like bizarre defenses haven't ever swayed a sentencing before. No matter the verdict in the criminal or civil cases, though, with Joshua Alper gone, nobody wins.
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