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Highway 1 fatality


Nov 8, 2014
Just saw this in the SF Chronicle's website. It wasn't me, even though I drive that road a lot and was going to take the new P85D out for a run soon.

Can't say that any vehicle would have allowed its driver to survive a 400+ plunge off Highway 1, but for those keeping stats, this is one to look into. Condolences to the family.

Motorist who plunged 400 feet in Sonoma County ID’d
By Hamed Aleaziz
Published 11:13 am, Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A motorist who died after his 2014 Tesla sped off Highway 1 in Sonoma County has been identified as San Rafael resident Louis Francis Thoelecke, 65, authorities said Wednesday.
Thoelecke died when his car plunged between 400 and 500 feet down a mountainside in the Jenner area, said Sgt. Cecile Focha with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The incident was reported shortly after 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the CHP said.
Both the CHP and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred between Fort Ross Road and Myers Grade Road.
Tesla Driver Fatality - Interesting how news portrays story because it is a Tesla

Tesla driver found dead after crash off Highway 1 in Sonoma County - San Jose Mercury News
Marin County driver who died in crash off | The Press Democrat

I am sure there have been other fatalities. RIP to the driver. I am posting this because it is interesting how the news portrayed the accident. One referred to the driver as a "Tesla Driver" and another article referred to the car going over the cliff specifically as "an electric car." In Hillary speak, I would say, what difference does it make if the car is electric or not? There are also some pictures of a pretty destroyed vehicle. Aside from the Tesla that was stolen, this is the only other fatality that I recall.

As a commenter mentioned, had this been a Buick, would they have referred to him as a Buick Driver?


One can NOT induce accuracy with precision!
Mar 24, 2013
No, they would not have used the term Buick Driver. However, had it been appropriate, I do believe they also would have used the terms "Veyron Driver" or "Rolls Royce Driver" or "Duesenberg Driver".


Lead Moderator
Global Moderator
Apr 2, 2010
Ottawa, Canada
Uhm yeah, no matter what you're driving, you're not going to survive driving off a 300 foot cliff. Kinda slimy putting "Tesla" in the title just to get attention.

Probably fell asleep at the wheel. Or was texting. Or maybe had a heart attack while driving. Sad but it happens every day.


Sep 30, 2014

Small pic of the MS, condolences to the family.


Jun 19, 2014
It's not really a question of how mangled the car was. If it didn't get mangled at all, the person's body would have hit with the same force that mangled the car. Even if seat belts held the person in place, the internal organs would have moved with the same force that destroyed the car. The only way to prevent a death would have been with controlled deceleration. It's not clear how much of that 400+ plunge was straight down, how much of it was the car sliding down, and how much of it was tumbling down. Short of a slow slide down, it wouldn't matter what car it was unless it fell on something closer to a three story tall air bag rather than a passenger one. Mangling meant that the car absorbed some of the forces. Without knowing the path that the car took on the way down, it's impossible to conclude that it wasn't survivable, but it certainly seems that way.


Active Member
Sep 16, 2013
Bay Area, CA
Sad to hear that. Almost 2 1/2 years before the first Tesla Model S fatality, but as you say, nobody survives that in any vehicle. Must've been a terrifying plunge.
Well, to be fair that actually happened quite awhile back. This would be the first time we're aware of that a Model S couldn't protect its owner, though. The previous fatality was after the car was stolen and crashed while on a joyride, though there were conflicting reports about whether or not that driver was wearing a seatbelt.


Active Member
Oct 26, 2014
Fairfax, VA, USA
You put details in a story that are interesting or unusual. Otherwise the headline would just boil down to "man dies," or even, "person does stuff."

Teslas are rare, thus the fact that he drove a Tesla is interesting. No, it didn't cause his death, but it's still interesting and unusual. No, they probably wouldn't say "Ford driver," but that's because Fords are common and that fact would not be interesting.

You folks freaking out over "Tesla" in the headline sound like paranoids....


Active Member
Supporting Member
Apr 10, 2009
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Wow, just drove my P85 down that stretch a couple weeks ago. It is a very beautiful area, but a very unforgiving drive. I made sure I was totally focused on the road, and did not drive it aggressively at all. I remember actually thinking to myself that going over the side there was one way not to survive in a Tesla. Very sad.

It is interesting to note, from the photo above, that the B-pillars seemed not to have collapsed, at least. It looks like the A-pillars might have bent though. From the look of it, the car did tumble, and did not just slide. There are some very vertical drops along there.

Concerning survivability: Formula One drivers survive 100+ MPH impacts all the time these days, but they are strapped in so tight they can barely breathe, and wearing the best helmets and HANS. They are also young and extremely trim and fit. A 65 year-old, even if he worked out, was no match for those forces.

Todd Burch

12-Year Member
Nov 3, 2009
Smithfield, VA
Well, to be fair that actually happened quite awhile back. This would be the first time we're aware of that a Model S couldn't protect its owner, though. The previous fatality was after the car was stolen and crashed while on a joyride, though there were conflicting reports about whether or not that driver was wearing a seatbelt.

Given the body-sized hole in the windshield, we can safely assume he was not wearing a seatbelt in that accident. So the car couldn't really protect its "stealer" in that case either.

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