Breaking News: Three Tesla Employees Killed in Palo Alto Plane Crash

Silicon Valley news outlets are reporting today that a small plane has crashed into a house in Palo Alto, killing all three people on board, and causing widespread power outages across the city. Rumors that all those aboard the plane were Tesla Motors employees were later confirmed by the electric car company’s CEO, Elon Musk.

ABC News is reporting the following details: “Three people have died after a twin engine Cessna 310R crashed into homes…in East Palo Alto….The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Palo Alto Airport around 8 a.m. It was headed for Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Southern California. The Cessna clipped a 12,000 volt power line about a mile northeast of the airport. A wing fell onto a home that houses a day care and the rest of the plane hit the retaining wall of another house down the street. There were seven people inside the day care when the plane struck…All of them left the house safely.”

Some articles are referring to the Tesla employees as “executives” of the company, leading to speculation that this could be a potential catastrophic blow to the company. However, others have reported that those killed were a senior engineer and two other non-management employees. According to, “The plane is reportedly owned by Tesla senior electrical engineer Doug Bourn. It’s not clear whether he was on the aircraft. The company is only confirming that three of its employees were on board, withholding their identities as it works with relevant authorities and notifies the families.”

As a Bay Area resident, and a huge fan of the company, this really hits home, and I can only agree with the following statement released by the company, “Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us.” It is a tragic day for fans of the company as well, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those killed.

Update (02-17) 18:48:
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the owner of the plane was a Tesla senior engineer. According to the article: “Acquaintances feared that Doug Bourn, 56, of Santa Clara was flying the twin-engine Cessna 310 that flew into power lines just after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport on Wednesday morning…At Tesla, Bourn shared responsibility for the design and testing of the power electronics module for the Tesla Roadster. He held commercial pilot and flight instructor licenses…and loved to sky dive and ride motorcycles. He also had plans to earn a helicopter pilot’s license.”

Steve Puma is a sustainable business consultant and writer.Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can learn more about Steve by reading his blog, or following his tweets.

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