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Utah woman who crashed into fire truck sues Tesla, says Autopilot feature failed to function

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah -- The woman who was behind the wheel of a Tesla that crashed into a fire truck at high speeds in South Jordan is suing Tesla and a service provider, saying the Autopilot feature failed to work as advertised.

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Heather P. Lommatzsch is suing Tesla Inc., Tesla Motors Utah Inc, and Service King Paint & Body over the crash, which occurred in May of this year.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and breach of warranty on the part of Tesla and negligence on the part of Service King, stating that the vehicle's Autopilot mode failed to stop the vehicle before it crashed into the back of a Unified Fire Authority fire truck at a high rate of speed.

The fire truck was stopped in traffic on Bangerter Highway when the crash occurred.

The lawsuit states the Autopilot did not engage in time to prevent the crash and further claims that Lommatzsch "attempted to brake but the brakes did not engage."

The lawsuit states Service King replaced a sensor on the vehicle sometime in the year leading up to the crash.

The woman suffered injuries in the crash, the lawsuit states, and she is seeking damages in the amount of at least $300,000 to cover both economic and non-economic damages.

The lawsuit claims the woman was led to believe the vehicle would stop automatically if an obstacle appeared in the roadway while the Autopilot mode was engaged.

Shortly after the crash, South Jordan Police stated that data released by Tesla technicians indicated the driver had repeatedly engaged, canceled and then re-engaged the vehicle's Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control functions. The report also stated the woman had taken her hands off the car's steering wheel more than a dozen times, which Tesla claims drivers are advised not to do while using the Autopilot system.

“Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds,” Tesla’s report, as released by South Jordan Police Department, said. “About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within two seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again. She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time.”

A report from the crash indicates the Tesla hit the fire truck at about 60 mph and that the driver braked "fractions of a second" prior to the crash.

Tesla released the following statement to Fox 13:

“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”