Angela Chao may have died after accidentally putting her Tesla in reverse, a mistake she made before, WSJ reports

Angela Chao
Angela Chao attends New York City Opera's Fall Gala 2010 at Lincoln Center in New York City.Adriel Reboh/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
  • Angela Chao, Foremost Group CEO, died on February 11 in a car accident near Austin.

  • Authorities said she may have drowned when her Tesla submerged into a pond.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Chao may have accidentally put her Tesla in reverse.

Angela Chao, Foremost Group CEO and younger sister of former US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, may have accidentally put her Tesla in reverse while making a three-point turn, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Chao died on February 11 after her vehicle was found submerged in a pond located by her sprawling, 900-acre private ranch in Blanco County, Texas, about 12 miles outside Austin. She was 50.


Blanco County Sheriffs told Austin American-Statesman that Chao may have "succumbed from being under the water."

But details of how Chao's Tesla ended up in the pond have not yet been divulged by authorities, leading some people, including J. Kyle Bass, a prominent hedge fund manager and founder of Texas-based Hayman Capital Management, to question if the Tesla was hacked.

"Does the Blanco County Sheriff have the technical capacity to investigate the Tesla logs to determine if the car was tampered with or even hacked?" Bass wrote on X. "This case continues to become more and more suspicious."

In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dated February 29, which was obtained by Business Insider, a Blanco County public information officer wrote that, while the preliminary investigation indicated that the incident was an "unfortunate accident … the Sherriff's Office is still investigating this accident as a criminal matter until they have sufficient evidence to rule out criminal activity."

A spokesman for the Blanco County sheriffs did not respond to a request for comment sent outside working hours.

Based on interviews with people close to Chao, county officials, and reviews of law enforcement documents, the Journal reported that the incident may have happened while the Foremost CEO was making a four-minute drive back to her ranch.

After a Friday evening celebrating Lunar New Year with close friends, Chao decided to drive back to the main house on the ranch around 11:30 p.m., the Journal reported.

Only minutes after saying goodbye, Chao called one of her friends, saying that her vehicle, a Tesla Model X SUV, wound up in a pond after attempting to make a three-point turn.

According to the Journal's account, Chao told her friend that she had put her car in reverse instead of drive — a mistake she had made before — leading her to back over an embankment and into the pond.

A spokesperson for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment sent outside regular working hours.

Experts previously told Business Insider that drivers only have about a minute to get out of a sinking vehicle.

The Journal reported that some friends and a property ranch manager came outside shortly after the call. Due to the remote location and terrain of the ranch, some emergency responders had to get out of their vehicles and walk to the site of the incident, according to the report.

By the time the vehicle was towed out of the water, Chao was taken out of the vehicle and found unresponsive, The Journal reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider