EV News

Elon Musk opens up on son’s death: ‘Nothing worse than losing a child’

The series of emails was originally published in a court declaration filed by the family of one of the crash victims who was riding in a Tesla car in December in a wrongful death claim.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, talked out about the death of his firstborn son in an email interaction with the parent of a Tesla driver who died in a crash that was recently made public.

“There is nothing worse than losing a child,” according to Business Insider, Musk wrote to James Riley in an email dated May 10, 2018.

Barrett Riley, Riley’s 18-year-old son, and a friend died in an automobile accident in Florida in 2018 when he lost control of a Tesla Model S travelling about 116 miles per hour and smashed into a concrete wall.

The emails were originally published by Bloomberg and were included in a December court filing in a wrongful death claim filed by the family of Edgar Monserratt, a front-seat passenger and Barett Riley’s buddy who died in the crash. The nearly seven-week-long line of messages reveals Musk’s personal participation in customer relations following a tragic event. He even mentions his own loss, something he has rarely spoken about in public.

“My firstborn son died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat,” Elon Musk wrote about his son Nevada Alexander Musk, who died at the age of ten weeks.

Musk even went so far as to meet Riley’s request that Tesla adjust a programmed feature to make it easier for parents to limit the maximum speed a Tesla may reach.

Tesla released a software upgrade to its speed restriction function in June 2018, allowing drivers to choose the maximum speed between 50 and 90 mph using a four-digit PIN on the car’s smartphone app or user interface. According to Bloomberg, the owner’s manual was changed to state that the feature was dedicated in Barrett Riley’s memory.

Riley wrote to Musk on May 31, 2018, saying, “I’ve never asked for recognition for anything in my life, but it would be wonderful to acknowledge that Barrett and Edgar’s loss resulted in the enhanced safety of others.”

Musk had told Riley two days previously that Tesla was “doing all we can to improve safety.” My friends, family, and I all drive Teslas, and I would still do everything I could if they didn’t.”

Riley filed a product liability lawsuit against Tesla in federal court in Florida over two years after the email exchange. According to the complaint, his Tesla vehicle “burst into an uncontrollable and fatal fire” following the incident. “The battery fire killed Barrett Riley, not the accident,” he said.

Riley requested a speed limiter device for his son’s safety two months before the tragedy, but it was removed without permission when the car was delivered to Tesla for service, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, if it hadn’t been for Tesla’s negligence, the limiter would have averted the accident and “Barrett Riley would be alive today.”

The lawyer representing Musk in the ongoing court action is currently attempting to persuade a judge to require Musk to testify about Tesla’s Autopilot assisted-driving feature.