Tesla driver charged in crash involving semi truck that critically injured woman in Detroit

Online fundraiser created to help victim

Detroit police: Driver was in control of Tesla when it crashed into semi truck

DETROIT – Detroit Police Department Assistant Chief, David LeValley, recently spoke to Local 4 News about the crash that happened Thursday involving a Tesla and semi truck in Southwest Detroit.

The crash left the passenger of the Tesla, 21-year-old Esmeralda Barco, critically injured.

On Tuesday, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office announced changes against the Tesla driver, Detroit resident and 22-year-old, Jean Paul Guerrero.

Guerrero has been charged with reckless driving causing serious injury, which is a felony. He has also been charged for driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor.

The crash took place at the intersection of Fort Street and Waterman Road while Guerrero was allegedly speeding and struck the semi truck.

“It appears that speed was a major factor in the collision. All the indications that we have at this point are that the vehicle was not in autopilot mode, that the driver was in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash,” said LeValley.

Read: Was it autopilot or driver error? Feds investigate Tesla crash on Detroit’s west side

Read more: US sends team to Detroit to investigate Tesla-semi crash

Despite the preliminary information given Tuesday morning, later on in the week investigators from DPD will be meeting with officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies to look for clues that may still be under the hood.

“Individuals from that agency along with the officer in charge of the case here in Detroit and the Michigan State police are gonna be removing a black box and an SD card from that Tesla,” said LeValley.

DPD could not comment on what exactly those cards entail although the mangled vehicle is still in their possession.

“We believe that once we look at that black box and download that information along with the information that is on the SD card, we’ll be able to determine for sure whether or not the vehicle was in auto pilot mode or not,” added LeValley.

It’s all a part of a wider investigation made on behalf of the NHTSA to determine if there’s any connection to two Florida crashes that happened involving Teslas as well.

“My understanding, there are a few other crashes involving Tesla vehicles in other parts of the country,” said LeValley.

Only those crashes were fatal and the self-driving feature was being used. As of right now all of the blame is being placed on the person who was behind the wheel.

“They did review that and authorized charges today, charging the driver with reckless driving and causing serious injury,” said LaValley.

In the meantime, the investigation by the NHTSA will continue.

Barco is still fighting for her life and dealing with brain bleeding and major back injuries.

No arraignment time or date has been confirmed by DPD at this time.

How to Help

An online fundraiser has been created on behalf of the woman. To help the crash victim, click here to donate to the online fundraiser.

Esmeralda Barco. (GoFundMe)

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.