UPDATE (February 18): The three Tesla Motors employees killed yesterday in the crash of a small airplane at the Palo Alto Airport have now been identified, according to local news reports.

They were: Doug Bourn, a senior electric engineer and the presumed pilot of the plane; Andrew Ingram, an electrical engineer; and Brian M. Finn, a senior manager of interactive electronics.

The company has not yet confirmed the three men's identities, and at noon, the San Mateo County Corner's office plans to hold a press conference to release the information officially.

[San Jose Mercury via Wired]


(February 17, 2010) “We lost 3 employees in a plane crash today. We're a small company and this is a tragic day. Our thoughts go out to their families.” - Elon

With those words, attributed to CEO Elon Musk on Tesla Motors' Twitter account an hour ago, the company acknowledged news that erupted onto Bay Area outlets this morning and spread globally via Twitter and other media.

Just before 8 am Pacific this morning, a twin-engine Cessna with three passengers apparently clipped electrical distribution lines while taking off in a thick fog from the Palo Alto Airport, on the shores of San Francisco Bay.

Pieces of the airplane crashed into buildings and cars in East Palo Alto, and power in Palo Alto and the adjacent Stanford Hospital was lost. Remarkably, there were no injuries on the ground.

The three passengers in the plane, among them a Tesla Motors executive, were killed.

All three passengers worked at Tesla, the pioneering startup electric-car maker whose Tesla Roadster was the first highway capable electric vehicle sold in the U.S. in many years. The company is now developing its next model, the Model S four-door luxury sports sedan.

At this point, the identities of the passengers have not been released. Sources confirm that Musk, vice president of business development Diarmuid O'Connell, and vice president of communications Ricardo Reyes are not among them.

Power remains out in Palo Alto, affecting the hub of Silicon Valley. The headquarters of High Gear Media, publishers of AllCarsElectric.com, is also dark.

We'll update this story as we get more details. Our thoughts go out to the families of the dead, and to all the employees and friends of pioneering electric-car maker Tesla Motors.

[Motor Authority, Jalopnik, KTVU, Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle]