Toddler Trapped in Scorching Tesla When Battery Dies

Death Trap

A 20-month-old girl was trapped inside a Tesla Model Y after the vehicle's battery died without warning — in the middle of an Arizona heat wave.

As local CBS-affiliated news station AZFamily reports, the girl's grandmother was horrified after discovering there was no way to get into the car.

"And I closed the door, went around the car, get in the front seat, and my car was dead," Renee Sanchez, who was on her way to the Phoenix Zoo with her granddaughter, told the outlet. "I could not get in. My phone key wouldn’t open it. My card key wouldn’t open it."

Sanchez called 911 and fortunately, the local Scottsdale fire department responded right away.

"And when they got here, the first thing they said was, 'Uggh, it’s a Tesla. We can’t get in these cars,'" Sanchez recalled. "And I said, 'I don’t care if you have to cut my car in half. Just get her out.'"

Locked Out

Fortunately, the girl was rescued safely by firefighters who broke a window with an axe.

Despite the happy ending, the incident highlights a glaring safety oversight. Usually, Tesla owners are alerted if the 12-volt battery that takes care of the vehicle's electrical systems is low — but Sanchez never got such a warning, something a Tesla representative reportedly confirmed to her later.

"When that battery goes, you’re dead in the water," she told AZFamily.

There's a manual latch on the driver's side that allows passengers to get out. But given the girl's young age, that wasn't an option.

We've already seen plenty of reports of people getting trapped inside Teslas, suggesting the EV maker isn't doing enough to redesign the system or educate drivers on how to access the hidden manual release.

"You don't know it's there unless you know it's there," Arizona local and Tesla owner Rick Meggison, told Phoenix's ABC15 last year after getting trapped during 100-degree heat.

As Fortune reports, the latest incident involving Sanchez's granddaughter highlights an ongoing debate. Is it up to the fire department to keep up with Tesla's emergency response guide, or is Tesla to blame for choosing "electronic door latches that don’t have proper emergency safeguards" and putting "form over function," as Center for Auto Safety executive director Michael Brooks told Fortune?

Either way, it's not like knowledge of the manual latch would've helped in this particular case.

"When there’s not a federal standard that specifies how these vehicles are to be made, Tesla very rarely chooses routes that are safe," Brooks added. "They're usually choosing something glitzy: safety comes last."

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