The family of a California couple who died in the crash of their Model S Tesla has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the carmaker. Mary Lou Seelandt, 66, and Karl Seelandt, 67, from Lompoc, died on July 6, 2022, when their 2015 Model S hit the back of a tractor-trailer rig at a Florida highway rest stop. The lawsuit alleges the car was defective and malfunctioned, although it does not specify the exact problem or whether the Autopilot function was in use at the time.
According to a reconstruction of the events, the tragedy happened in the early afternoon, on I-75, near Gainesville, Florida. The highway exit in question split into two lanes, one for cars and the other for trucks and buses. Somehow the couple’s Tesla ended up in the lane for larger vehicles, and its roof was crushed when the car became edged under the truck. The retired California couple was on a road trip that included a visit with family in Georgia to celebrate their granddaughter’s first birthday.
Tesla’s Autopilot system is under investigation from federal agencies. For now, 16 crashes in which the Autopilot system played a role have been included in the investigation, but several others may be added shortly. Last month, a California resident was killed when his Tesla struck the side of a firetruck in Walnut Creek. An investigation into the crash is still ongoing, but it is believed the car malfunctioned.