Tesla ‘autopilot’ crash driver to stand trial after critically injuring woman

A woman who claims her Tesla was on autopilot when she struck a nurse trying to board a tram will stand trial after a court heard the 24-year-old driver allegedly fled the scene and left the victim with critical injuries.

Sakshi Agrawal, a loading dock manager contracted by Victoria Police, was travelling along Wattletree Road in Armadale in a Tesla 3 when she hit acute care nurse Nicole Lagos about 6.30am in March 2022.

Accused driver Sakshi Agrawal outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Lagos was thrown and dragged between 15 and 20 metres along the road, which left her with life-threatening injuries.

Agrawal previously told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court she was driving her Tesla on autopilot.

Following a day of witness evidence on Monday, magistrate Natalie Haynes found there was sufficient evidence to support a possible conviction and ordered Agrawal stand trial in the County Court.

Agrawal has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier in the day, veteran tram driver Glenville Pereira said he was stationary and waiting for a passenger to board when a Tesla vehicle went “whooshing” past and struck Lagos.

Pereira said he had started to slow his tram about 100 metres from the stop when he noticed a woman sitting and waiting on route five.

Pereira said that when he put on the indicators and opened the doors, he watched the woman stand and begin walking towards the tram in the dark, until she disappeared.

Pereira, a driver with 35 years’ experience, said he heard a loud bang and went to investigate.

“I didn’t know she was hit first of all. When I looked back to see why she did not get on the tram, I couldn’t find her,” he said.

“Then whoosh, something went past.”

Yarra Trams chief safety officer James McMillan rejected suggestions from Agrawal’s defence lawyers that the tram doors may have opened before it came to a stop. McMillan said drivers of D-class trams were unable to open the doors while the tram was moving.

He said side mirrors were also on trams to provide the driver with an opportunity to see vehicles, but that was not always possible.

Sakshi Agrawal at the scene of the collision with police officers.Credit:Nine News

Agrawal faces four charges, including driving in a manner dangerous and failing to assist after a collision.

After the collision, she allegedly fled the scene before turning herself in to police later.

At the time, major collision investigators said it was the case was the first the unit had investigated involving a Tesla.

Tesla’s autopilot mode is designed to enable the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane. However, the function still requires drivers to actively monitor their surroundings and keep their hands on the wheel.

Lagos and her father watched Monday’s hearing remotely.

Agrawal, who is on a bridging visa, remains on bail.

She must continue to report to her local police station once a week, avoid international points of departure and remain in Victoria.

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