Texas Report: Angela Chao Was Intoxicated in Fatal Accident

Texas authorities released their report on the death of Angela Chao, sister-in-law of Mitch McConnell, after she accidentally drove her car into a pond at her ranch and drowned.

The toxicology report showed that Chao had a blood-alcohol concentration of .233, nearly three times the legal limit in Texas, the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office said in its report.

The report details that Chao was intoxicated last month when she accidentally drove her Tesla X SUV in reverse over a wall into a pond on the Texas ranch she owned with her husband.

Chao was hosting seven women friends at the ranch in Johnson City on February 10 after the group had attended a concert by rapper Pitbull in Austin the night before. Most of the women were from New York and had attended Harvard Business School with Chao.

With her husband in Dubai and a young child at the main house on the property, the women shared dinner and drinks at the guest house before Chao left at around 11:30 p.m. to make the approximately one-mile drive back to the main house.

Surveillance video from the exterior of a guest house on the ranch shows her walking “unsteadily to her vehicle” that night.

Investigators later determined that Chao’s Tesla had struck a retaining wall near the pond, separating two large limestone blocks at least three feet high and weighing up to 500 pounds, with the SUV becoming “airborne after striking the wall then landed and rolled into the pond,” the report said.

On video, the car first lurched forward toward a wooden barrier, and then it “reverses turning left without stopping and over the top of the limestone block wall.”

Minutes later, Chao called one of her friends and calmly told her she had driven into the pond, adding that her feet were under water. Chao said she was unable to get out of the vehicle, the water was rising, and that she loved the friend, knowing she was going to die.

With the pond only 30 meters from the guest house, some of the friends attempted to locate Chao until rescue workers arrived.

The ranch manager told the deputies the rear passenger door of the Tesla was open, according to the report, and deputies tried unsuccessfully to reach Chao from the back door. Attempts to break a side window were initially unsuccessful by a single deputy, but additional medics helped break through. “I swam down and felt a hand,” the deputy wrote.

Efforts to revive Chao by CPR were unsuccessful.

After reviewing photos from the scene and videos, as well as reports, the Texas Rangers and FBI “felt this incident was nothing more than an unfortunate accident.”


Chao’s death reignited concerns around the gearshifts used in Tesla vehicles.

The death of Chao has led to scrutiny of Tesla vehicles, their allegedly confusing gearshift design and the use of the use of laminated glass in the windows of modern-day cars, which is advertised as “unbreakable.”

Chao had told friends she had mixed up the drive and reverse gears in her Tesla several times.

Business Insider found 12 complaints about the gear function in a database of consumer complaints.

Seven of those complaints were from people who said the way Tesla had designed the gearshift was confusing, resulting in them sometimes putting the car in drive when they meant to put it in reverse or vice versa. The other five complaints were from people who said their cars appeared to switch between drive and reverse without warning.

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