Fort Lauderdale

‘Pray for the Families': Vigil Held for Teens Killed in Fort Lauderdale Tesla Crash

Police say speed believed to be a factor in the fiery crash

A vigil was held Wednesday night for the two South Florida teens killed after a Tesla Model S crashed and caught fire, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said.

FLPD said the single-car crash that happened around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday killed two 18-year-old males. Another 18-year-old male, who was in the back seat, was ejected from the vehicle and transported to the hospital.

Police identified the driver who died as Barrett Riley and the passenger who died as Edgar Monserratt Martinez. The passenger who was ejected was identified as Alexander Berry.

Riley and Martinez attended Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale. The school is providing grief counselors to students Wednesday.

"These two members of our senior class should be finishing their AP exams and celebrating things like the prom and their upcoming graduation. Instead, we are mourning their passing," Pine Crest President Dr. Dana Markham said in a statement. "There really are no words to express how deeply this has affected our entire community."

"It's just a very tough situation for us. Because we were so close to being done. And this had to happen to them," senior Danielle Bejar said. "The way that our class was able to come together was incredible and I think that we’re so strong and I really pray for the families that are directly affected."

The incident occurred in the 1300 block of Seabreeze Boulevard. Police say the car went off the roadway and struck a concrete wall, immediately catching fire.

Neighbor Wendy Mascolo said her kids play right where the crash happened.

"I was petrified, my kids play in this lot right here and I thought, oh my God, if some car jumped the curb it could be my children so I ran as fast as I could," Mascolo said.

Mascolo said by the time she came outside, the car was engulfed in flames.

"They were putting out the flames of the car when I came upon it," she said.

The circumstances of the crash are under investigation. Police said speed may have been a factor in the crash.

The crash comes after others involving Tesla models, including some that were driving on autopilot. Most recently, a Tesla Model X crashed and burst into flames in March near Mountain View, California, killing the vehicle's driver.  

Tesla released a statement on the latest crash, calling it a tragedy and saying they are cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

"We have not yet been able to learn the vehicle identification number, which has prevented us from determining whether there is any log data. However, had Autopilot been engaged it would have limited the vehicle’s speed to 35 mph or less on this street, which is inconsistent with eyewitness statements and the damage to the vehicle," Tesla's statement said.

The company said the family who owned the car "has been a close friend of Tesla for many years."

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends affected by this tragedy," Tesla wrote. "This hits us particularly hard."

The NTSB also said they are sending a team of four to investigate the crash. The NTSB said they don't anticipate autopilot being a part of their investigation.

Markham said the two boys were part of a close group of friends and loved boating and fishing.

"They would often come to school on Mondays and tell us about their adventures on the water," she said in her statement.

Riley was the oldest of seven children, and was a member of the school's crew and tennis teams. He was planning to attend Purdue University in the fall.

Martinez came to South Florida from Venezuela with his family when he was 11. He was into business and gave investment advice to his teachers, Markham said. He had been accepted to Babson College in Massachusetts.

Friends said Barry attended Westminster School in Fort Lauderdale and had just finished his freshman year at the University of Florida.

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