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US Billionaire Drowns in Tesla After Rescuers Struggle With Car's Strengthened Glass



US Billionaire Drowns in Tesla After Rescuers Struggle With Car's Strengthened Glass​

Reinforced glass in Tesla windows can be extremely difficult to break from the inside, especially underwater.​

By Vinay Patel @VinayPatelBlogs
03/11/24 AT 10:42 AM GMT


Angela Chao (1)
Angela Chao, former Chair and CEO of Foremost Group. (Foremost Group)

Angela Chao, the billionaire sister-in-law of Sen. Mitch McConnell, tragically drowned in a pond at her Texas ranch. It is speculated that she may have accidentally put her Tesla in reverse while attempting a three-point turn.

Since then, disturbing details have surfaced, recounting the frantic rescue efforts aimed at saving the 50-year-old CEO of shipping company Foremost Group. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Chao was driving her Tesla home after an evening with friends when she accidentally put the car in reverse.

Attempts to break into the vehicle were ineffective due to the reinforced glass in the Model X's windows and sunroof. Tests conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) show the Model X's glass is nearly impossible to break underwater.

It is worth noting that Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledged in 2017 that his company made some "very foolish" mistakes with the Model X design, particularly its complexity. Chao accidentally put her Tesla in reverse instead of drive while performing a three-point turn on her ranch, causing it to plunge down an embankment into a pond.

Friend makes daring rescue attempt as responders rush to the scene​

As her car began to submerge, Chao panicked and called a friend to explain her situation. Over the next few hours, rescuers arrived and made valiant attempts to free her.

One friend, in an attempt to help, had already jumped into the pond in a desperate attempt to reach Chao before emergency responders arrived at the scene.

An incident report, obtained by the WSJ, suggests one fire department crew arrived on the scene 24 minutes after getting a call. Describing the grim scene, one responder said the car was completely submerged and some deputies from a sheriff's department struggled to even stand on it during their rescue attempt.
Additional resources like lighting equipment, dive teams and a tow truck were called in to aid in the critical mission. Although the truck arrived on the scene, it did not have a cable long enough to reach the car. Moreover, the driver was reportedly afraid of being electrocuted. A longer cable was finally retrieved.
Despite their valiant rescue efforts, the two-man crew were not able to pull Chao from the car until around 12:56 a.m. When the doors were opened, hundreds of gallons of water poured out of the vehicle.
Chao showed no signs of life. Despite 43 minutes of resuscitation efforts by EMS responders, she was pronounced dead at the scene. The ranch where Chao died is owned by a corporation tied to her husband, Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist and part-owner of the Boston Celtics. Breyer's net worth is estimated at $2.9 (£2.26) billion.

Cause of Tesla crash under investigation​

Regrettably, details about Chao's death are still few and far between. This lack of information has led some, including prominent hedge fund manager J. Kyle Bass, founder of Texas-based Hayman Capital Management, to speculate that Tesla may have been hacked.
"Does the Blanco County Sheriff have the technical capacity to investigate the Tesla logs to determine if the car was tampered with or even hacked?" Bass wrote on X. "This case continues to become more and more suspicious."
Last week, The Blanco County Sheriff's Office described the billionaire's death as "an unfortunate accident," further noting that they were still conducting a criminal investigation.
"Although the preliminary investigation indicated this was an unfortunate accident, the Sheriff's Office is still investigating this accident as a criminal matter until they have sufficient evidence to rule out criminal activity," the Blanco County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Thursday letter to state Attorney General Ken Paxton. "This incident was not a typical accident," the agency added.
In 2016, Musk revealed that he resorted to sleeping in a sleeping bag at the Tesla factory to address critical quality control issues plaguing the new Model X production line.
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