The Indian-origin driver accused of hitting a woman boarding a tram has told a Melbourne court that the Tesla car she was driving was on auto-pilot at the time of the accident.
The accused, 23-year old P-plater Sakshi Agrawal, appeared in Melbourne’s Magistrate Court on Tuesday evening charged with a string of driving offences. Ms Agrawal was later released on bail despite police concerns that she could be a flight risk. Her driver’s licence had previously been suspended. She had allegedly fled the scene before turning herself in.
In a first case involving a Tesla for Victoria’s collision investigators, the court was told that Ms Agrawal told the police she thought she had more time to stop before the tram stopped.
Although Tesla’s auto-pilot mode is designed to assist the driver by enabling the car to stay in lane, slow down, accelerate and brake automatically, it still requires the driver to hold their steering and monitor their surroundings.
The victim, 26-year old aged care worker Nicole Lagos, was taken to the Alfred hospital where she remains in a critical condition with life-threatening injuries to her upper and lower body.
According to the Police, Ms Lagos was struck when she was trying to get on a city-bound tram that was stopped with its doors open on Wattletree Road, Armadale, about 6.30am on Tuesday.
Detective acting Senior Sergeant Jarrod Dwyer, from the major collision investigation unit, said, “As the pedestrian approached the tram, a white Model 3 Tesla has driven through past the tram and collected the pedestrian and then fled the scene initially,”.
“The driver of that car has immediately panicked after the collision and left the scene, but returned shortly after in the company of a friend.” acting Senior Sergeant Dwyer said, adding that Ms Agrawal expressed remorse when she returned to the scene and was “quite hysterical”.
“It was just a normal accident, it happens every day”, is what Ms Agrawal’s partner, who returned with her to the scene, had to say to Nine News.