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Second victim identified after fiery, deadly Tesla crash north of Houston

The constable's office said earlier this week that Tesla is cooperating with the investigation, in which federal authorities are now also involved.

HOUSTON — The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences has officially identified the second person who was in a fiery Tesla crash north of Houston over the weekend, records show.

That person, 69-year-old Everette Talbot, was killed in the crash along with Dr. William Varner of The Woodlands.

Talbot's spouse was the person notified after the wreck, records showed Wednesday.

The crash happened last Saturday night, according to Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman. The constable said one victim was found in the back seat of the burned vehicle and one victim was found in the front passenger seat. Herman said his investigators claimed no one was driving at the time of impact.

But Tesla's Elon Musk tweeted that his company's data did not show Autopilot was enabled on the car. He also said the person who purchased the Tesla did not buy the full self-driving feature.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are both looking into the cause of the wreck.

The NTSB says they will be looking at the vehicle operations and post crash fire to see if the car was operating as designed. In past Tesla crashes, they’ve used the vehicle’s car log to determine the second by second actions before the crash, including details like the speed, distance and whether or not specialty systems, like autosteer, were initiated.

Tesla says its vehicles record that data at regular intervals and can transmit it over-the-air to their servers.

But when it comes to putting out electric vehicle fires, NTSB said last November, a third of all fire departments don’t train on how to do that.

Tesla has their own training in what to do in case of a fire, saying to use large amounts of water directly on the battery to cool, exactly what The Woodlands firefighters say they did.

They say it only took a few minutes to put out the fire, but kept water running on the Tesla battery floor plate to keep it cool while crews started their investigation.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena says they offer ongoing training for fighting these unique fires.

“They’re a different challenge, some of the components that are used in manufacturing these hybrid vehicles require and actually act adversely when you put water on them," Pena said.

The NTSB says it could take 1 to 2 years before the full investigation is complete, but a preliminary report could be issued in as soon as 30 days.

Watch: Fiery Tesla crash leaves two men dead near The Woodlands

Officials with Precinct 4 also said they are issuing search warrants for Tesla to get the logs on the car. They said Tesla is being cooperative. 

The NHTSA released the following statement earlier this week:

"NHTSA is aware of the tragic crash involving a Tesla vehicle outside of Houston, Texas. NHTSA has immediately launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash. We are actively engaged with local law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash and will take appropriate steps when we have more information."

The group Varner worked for released a statement:

“We were saddened to hear of the death of one of our physicians over the weekend. Dr. Varner spent his life caring for others, and now, we are focused on caring for his colleagues and family, helping them to cope with this sudden and unexpected loss.”

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