Police are investigating whether a Tesla sedan’s semi-autonomous Autopilot feature was engaged when it rear-ended a fire department truck in Utah.

News of the crash came as a top Tesla official who had been the main technical contact with U.S. safety investigators left the company to join rival Waymo.

Also, the top dog on Tesla’s engineering team is taking a leave of absence at a crucial moment for the company and its first mass-market car, the Model 3.

The Tesla Model S crashed into the truck at 60 mph (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact, according to police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The fire department mechanic truck had been stopped at a red light.

The crash comes as federal safety agencies investigate the performance of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system.

The Tesla’s air bags were activated in the crash, South Jordan police Sgt. Samuel Winkler said. The Tesla’s driver suffered a broken right ankle, and the driver of the Unified Fire Authority mechanic truck did not require treatment, Winkler said.

There was no indication the Tesla’s driver was under the influence of any substance, and information on what the driver may have told investigators about the circumstances of the crash likely would not be available before Monday, Winkler said by telephone.

There was light rain falling and roads were wet when the crash occurred, police said in a statement.

“Witnesses indicated the Tesla Model S did not brake prior to impact,” the statement said.

Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras, radar and computers to keep speed, change lanes and automatically stop vehicles. The company, which is based in Palo Alto, California, and has a huge battery factory in the Reno, Nevada, area, tells drivers the system requires them to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel so they can take control to avoid accidents.

“Tesla has not yet received any data from the car and thus does not know the facts of what occurred, including whether Autopilot was engaged,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.

Police said they had been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board about the crash. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said he did not know whether the agency would get involved.

The NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating at least two other crashes involving Tesla vehicles. In March, a Tesla Model X SUV crashed on a California highway, killing the driver, and investigators are looking into the performance of the semi-autonomous driving system in that crash.

Exec changes

Waymo, Google’s self-driving car spinoff, confirmed that Tesla exec Matthew Schwall had joined the company.

Schwall had been Tesla’s director of field performance engineering, according to his LinkedIn page, which said he served as Tesla’s primary technical contact with safety regulatory agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

There was no immediate comment from Tesla about Schwall.


Also, Tesla said in a statement on Friday that Doug Field, its senior vice president of engineering, “is just taking some time off to recharge and spend time with his family.”

“He has not left Tesla,” the statement added. A spokesperson could not confirm how long the leave of absence would last or the reason for Field’s temporary departure.

The news was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

Field has been with Tesla since 2013, and he’s served as Tesla’s engineering chief since September 2016.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that, sometime in mid-2017, he asked Field to take over both manufacturing and engineering for the Model 3.

But, earlier this year, Musk decided it was “better to divide & conquer.”

“My job as CEO is to focus on what’s most critical, which is currently Model 3 production,” he said. “So I’m back to sleeping at factory. Car biz is hell.”

He added that he views Field as “one of the world’s most talented engineering execs.”

Field’s leave of absence comes as Tesla is attempting to assuage investors’ fears about the company’s ability to ramp up production of the Model 3.

After months of manufacturing issues that have left Tesla repeatedly falling short of its production goals, the company’s latest earnings release showed Tesla may finally be getting back on track.

But then a bizarre conference call earlier this month – in which Musk refused to answer questions from two Wall Street analyst and called their quesitons “boring” – appeared to rattle investors.

Shares of Tesla sunk about 5% after the call during off-hours trading.

The company’s stock has rebounded slightly over the past five days, but its price remains well below its all-time high of more than $380 per share.