Father of driver in fiery downtown Tesla crash says daughter swerved to avoid wrong-way car

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The report doesn’t lie—Casey Speckman was drunk when she crashed Kevin McCarthy’s Tesla in downtown Indianapolis last November.

But Speckman’s father says there’s more to the story. He revealed the existence of surveillance video that showed his daughter swerved to avoid a wrong-way driver on Illinois Street.

Speckman’s blood-alcohol level tested at 0.21 percent, according to the IMPD accident report. McCarthy’s BAC tested at 0.17.

Speckman, 27, and McCarthy, 44, died after McCarthy’s 2015 Tesla Model S crashed into a tree and parking garage near Illinois and 16th streets around 1 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2016. McCarthy owned Case Pacer, a company that manages case software for attorneys. Speckman, who worked for him, was behind the wheel.

Speckman’s father, Jon, talked to our media partners at the IndyStar and said his daughter swerved to avoid a car going the wrong way on Illinois Street before the fiery crash.

“A tragic accident. Unfortunately Casey made a poor choice in getting behind the wheel of any vehicle after having been drinking,” Speckman told the IndyStar. “We feel that there’s some other circumstances involved.”

Speckman’s attorney, Patrick Elward, provided video from surveillance cameras at a nearby White Castle. The video showed the headlights of a car going the wrong way on Illinois Street, causing the Tesla to swerve. The crash happened out of view of the camera.

“(We’ve) got a security video which clearly shows a vehicle that turned around in the White Castle parking lot after traveling north, turned around and went south, the wrong way, on Illinois Street, that Casey had to avoid the vehicle going the wrong way,” Speckman said.

The crash was devastating, leaving a debris trail that stretched 150 yards. The electric car’s 1,200-pound battery pack broke apart, sending battery cells everywhere. Firefighters who responded to the scene said the car was on fire and the lithium batteries went off “like projectiles.”

The Marion County Coroner’s Office ruled that Speckman and McCarthy died from blunt-force trauma injuries from the crash.

Jon Speckman wonders if the Tesla Model S, which has a top speed of 155 mph, should be allowed on city streets. Some versions have a mode that accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.

“This is a vehicle that travels from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds. She’s clearly having to swerve to miss a vehicle going the wrong way on a one-way street,” Speckman said.

“If her foot should happen to hit the accelerator, it’s like a rocket ship. I don’t know why they have to make a car that does that.”

Tesla declined to comment for the IndyStar’s story. The company previously released a statement to the newspaper in January:

“We have been deeply saddened by this accident and have been working closely with authorities to facilitate their report. While it can be difficult to determine the precise speed of a vehicle in such a crash, the observed damage and debris field indicate a very high speed collision.”

Authorities are still trying to determine how fast the Tesla was going when it crashed.

Jon Speckman says he hasn’t made a decision on whether to file a lawsuit against Tesla.

The automaker was the subject of a National Highway Transportation Safety Agency investigation after a series of battery fires involving the 2013 Model S vehicles. The company strengthened the battery compartments, and the investigation was closed in 2014.

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