On July 22, Taiwanese Pro Racer, beloved celebrity Jimmy Lin, and his son Jenson Lin were trapped inside a crashed Tesla car. Witnesses saw Lin’s car steer to the right abruptly before hitting a pedestrian island just before reaching a highway. By the time Jimmy Lin was pulled out of the flaming vehicle, he was already unconscious, with multiple injuries to his face and body.
The car in the incident is an electric Tesla Model X car.
Taiwanese passers-by saw the accident and immediately went to rescue.
It was a hot day in Taiwan. At 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), many kind Taiwanese residents nearby began a rescue effort before the car started to blaze.
According to Apple Daily (Taiwan), some of the unsung heroes were staff from contractors of Taoyuan Municipal Government, MRT Engineering Bureau Mutual Aid Construction, Japanese Commerce Huadalin Group, and Mainland Engineering Company. The groups were carrying out civil engineering turnkey projects for the underground between the Station of Taoyuan MRT Green Line and the North Excavation.
Mr Cheung, who was involved in the rescue, said, “As we were pulling the people out, the car was burning harder by the second!” At first, he thought it was someone’s tire that went flat when he heard the noise. When he ran out to see what happened, he saw the accident and one staff member ran for help inside the construction site.
Their supervisor also called the fire department and police immediately.
He recalled, “While I was grabbing the fire extinguisher, many workers had taken turns to rescue. The little boy had already been released from the vehicle. About 5 or 6 of us were on both sides, trying to rescue the male passenger. But his foot was stuck by the foot pedal.
As the car was badly deformed from the crash, it also made the rescue more challenging, as Lin was trapped in his seat.
The entire rescue process had to be as quick as possible, as the vehicle was burning fiercely and the day was very hot.
As Mr. Cheung and his co-workers tried to pull Jimmy Lin out of the car, they could feel the fire approaching their faces. They realized the car would explode soon. Mr. Cheung expressed that at one time, it was too hot for them to continue. But they knew they had to keep going. Eventually, Lin was rescued and placed safely on the side of the road, but he was already unconscious and unable to speak. Witnesses said at the time, Lin was not going faster than 70, and there was rarely any accident in that area.
As the witnesses waited for help to arrive, some also used umbrellas to shield Jimmy Lin from the heat. According to the witnesses, Lin was covered in blood and swollen; his arms looked fractured. Lin’s son was breaking down in tears by his side. The workers comforted Jenson and told him his father would be okay, which helped Jenson to feel more settled.
Family Spoke Out
Jimmy Lin and his son Jenson were sent to Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. At about 1 pm, (local time) the hospital announced that Lin and his son were being treated. Therefore they could not provide more details on their conditions. Lin’s wife and family arrived at the hospital with him. The hospital representative also said Lin’s management and family would hold a press conference later at the hospital.
Taiwan Police Said Lin Did not Appear to Cause the Accident
Taiwan Police released footage of the incident from the traffic cameras.
The police said, “At the time, Mr. Jimmy Lin was at the turn-around at the intersection through Zhongzheng North Road, Lin then drove in the direction of Taoyuan District. From the footage, Lin was not going at a fast pace at all.”
However, the police pointed out something important: the car steered to the right for some unknown reason before crashing into the pedestrian island. That was also when the vehicle started to burn. Police conducted a breathalyzer test, confirmed that Lin had no alcohol in his body, and ruled out driving under the influence.
Lin’s management and his younger brother Zhi-Xin Lin held a conference to explain what they knew so far. They said that they were very thankful to the people of Taiwan, who rescued Jimmy Lin and his son Jenson. The management said that they couldn’t imagine what would have happened if the car had exploded while they were still inside.
Lin’s younger brother also first thanked everyone at the scene, saving his older brother, Jimmy Lin. He was grateful to have experienced the kind Taiwanese hearts carried.
He understood everyone had been concerned for his brother. He said, “At this moment, Jimmy’s condition is comparatively stable.” He went on to thank the medical team at the hospital. He said the family would release more details through a statement later. Lin’s brother also said the next 2-3 days would be key to the father and son’s conditions. Before the press conference ended, his brother once again expressed his gratitude to everyone from the press, the hospital, and the rescue.
In a statement, Lin’s family said later in the evening, “Jimmy has suffered from multiple injuries and fractures. Both Jimmy and Jenson are currently in the Intensive Care Unit. The hospital team is conducting surgery evaluation. Their conditions at the moment are stable.”
The severe incident shocked everyone in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. Most people had been asking how the Tesla caught on fire and why it was steering right before the accident.
Jimmy Lin Is a Pro-car Racer
Since 1997, Jimmy Lin has been in all sorts of pro racing competitions. He was signed by Hong He, China’s top car racing team, and trained under Ma Jun Kun, one of the top racing coaches.
Lin held his own race for the first time in 2005 to increase awareness of traffic safety to the public.
In 2006, Lin’s rally team won 3rd place at the China Rally Championship.
In 2008, Lin was inducted into the China F1 TianRong Powerboat Racing team in Shenzhen, one step closer to getting his F1 license.
Netizens and Fans Want Answer from Tesla
The incident angered netizens and fans. They all agreed that Lin, as a professional racing driver with his own racing team, his ability to control the vehicles would be much stronger than most ordinary people. Tesla China had also used the star to boost sales. Netizens went to the Tesla Weibo page to ask for the truth and a formal explanation of Jimmy Lin’s accident.
Lin’s car racing peers confirmed Lin’s driving ability as he could handle F-1 racing. Fewer than five people in China had his ability from him at the time of the incident. So they suspected it would be the Tesla vehicle’s issues.
Repeat Claims of Malfunction
This isn’t the first time Tesla to have car issues in China. Many Tesla car owners have claimed suffering accidents due to vehicle malfunction. For instance, Mr Han from Tianjin bought a Tesla Model S car in June 2021, but he said the car had to be repaired seven times in the first two months of ownership. The incident was submitted as a court claim.
Mr Han bought the certified refurbished car from Tesla. On August 24, 2021, Mr Han was driving his Tesla vehicle and had a serious traffic accident saying the brakes and the door were not working. It was later determined by the court that it was the car that caused the accident.
The court found Tesla guilty and required the car giant to refund the original cost of the car, which was 370,000 yuan (US$55,000), and over 1.23 million yuan (US$182,000) in compensation.
Then in April 2021, another Tesla owner Ms. Zhang protested at a Tesla car show in Shanghai claiming brake failure as the cause of an accident in a Tesla Model 3. She jumped on top of the Model 3 on display at a car show with a T-shirt that said “Brake Failure” in Chinese. This incident turned Tesla’s appearance at the show into a PR crisis.
Tesla had been losing customers in China. Its car sales plunged by 50 percent in May 2021, compared to the cars sold in April 2021. Tesla had a tough time through the Shanghai lock-down in April 2022, then sales jumped back to 78,000 (local sales plus export) in June. Tesla has now slipped into second place to BYD for electric vehicle sales in China.