PALM HARBOR, FL — Florida State Troopers have filed felony charges against the driver of a Tesla who investigators say was driving nearly 120 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood when he allegedly crashed the car, killing two people and a dog.
The family of the homeowner killed in the crash is now taking legal action against the estate of the car’s owner who also died in the crash.
The Tesla Model S Plaid, one of the fastest production cars in the world, crashed through the roof of a Palm Harbor home killing 69-year-old Donna Rein and her 14-year-old Yorkshire terrier Lilly.
“It’s been hell. Every day without her hurts more. It doesn’t get better. I’m waiting for her to call me. I’m waiting for her to text me,” said Rein’s daughter Amber Mooney.
Mooney is now left picking up the broken pieces of a once happy home, collecting her mother’s treasured belongings which have been exposed to the elements as a result of the gaping hole in the roof and the missing rear wall of the home.
“If it’s raining outside, it’s raining inside,” Mooney said.
“I remember everything, but I can’t really talk about it”
“She retired for me so she could help me take care of my girls,” said daughter Lindsey Jones.
Jones is a cancer survivor with two special needs daughters. She said her mother picked the girls up from school and took them to therapies.
“She was there all day, every day just for us,” Jones said. ”She was the rock.”
Jones and her boyfriend were in the house at the time of the crash.
“I remember everything, but I can’t really talk about it. It’s too hard,” she said.
The crash left them temporarily homeless.
The Tesla’s owner bought the car hours earlier
The ABC Action News I-Team has uncovered the car’s owner, Travis Meisman, bought the new Tesla hours before the crash and died in it later that night.
According to Tesla’s website, the Model S Plaid model retails for $129,900, has a 1,020 peak horsepower electric motor, a top speed of 200 miles per hour, and can go from zero-to-sixty in 1.9 seconds.
Investigators said Meisman allowed his friend Vaughn Mongan to drive the car. Mongan took it down Hermosa Drive, a tiny side street that ends at a “T” intersection directly behind Rein’s home.
He was arrested last week, charged with two counts of vehicular homicide.
116 miles an hour on a short residential street
According to his arrest report, Mongan drove the Tesla 116 miles an hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone, ran a stop sign, hit a fire hydrant and fence, then went up an embankment. That launched the car through the roof. It came to rest in the home, propelling Rein and her dog from her bedroom into the front yard.
The I-Team rode on Hermosa Drive and determined it is only 0.3 miles long. That means it would take only 10 seconds to travel the entire length of that road at the maximum speed recorded on the car’s black box.
“To see that, to know what happened and to know that our mother is gone, words can’t explain that,” Mooney said.
Mongan was released after posting bond. When ABC Action News went to his home, no one answered the door.
Lawsuit alleges “massive pain, suffering and ultimately her death”
Rein’s family has filed a lawsuit against Mongan and Meisman’s estate, alleging Meisman gave Mongan the Tesla’s keys knowing he would operate the car in “a careless, reckless and/or negligent manner” causing Rein “massive pain, suffering and ultimately her death.”
“I just think this was completely senseless. Careless, senseless. Completely ridiculous. Completely unnecessary. And my mom’s gone,” Jones said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page, hoping to meet immediate needs but they know that’ll only be a short-term solution to a tragedy that happened in a matter of seconds.
“This isn’t going to go away. This isn’t a story and next week there’s another story. Our family forever will be trying to take care of our family and this is a forever problem for us,” Mooney said.
Records show Mongan has had nine previous traffic violations in Pinellas County, including three speeding tickets.
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