A Tesla going more than 100 mph. A suspended license. Three young lives cut short. Inside the Pasadena crash

A sidewalk memorial featuring flowers, notes and a Dodgers hat
Mourners leave flowers, notes and other mementos where three people died and three were severely injured after a Tesla crashed while speeding in Pasadena.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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The 22-year-old behind the wheel of a speeding Tesla that crashed into a building in Pasadena, claiming the lives of three people Saturday, was driving with a suspended license, according to authorities.

The Pasadena Police Department released more information Tuesday about the violent wreck of a speeding Tesla that left three dead and three others injured early Saturday — and narrowly avoided more casualties.


9:12 a.m. May 15, 2024This story was updated to remove a statement that Moheb Samuel graduated from Maranatha High School in 2020. The Times cannot confirm Samuel’s graduation date.

According to the police, Moheb Samuel was driving over 100 mph on East Foothill Boulevard shortly after 2:30 a.m. Saturday when he narrowly missed crashing into a car driving north at the intersection of Foothill and Sierra Madre Boulevard. The Tesla then veered off the road, crashed through a streetlight and became airborne after striking a curb on the north side of the road.

The Tesla traveled about 130 feet through the air before smashing into a power pole and the building, police said. Among the three people killed, one was ejected from the back seat; three other passengers were seriously injured.


Samuel was cited in September by the California Highway Patrol for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, according to court records. He was due in court in March but failed to appear, resulting in a warrant issued for his arrest.

His driver’s license was suspended when he was driving the Tesla on Saturday, according to city of Pasadena spokesperson Lisa Derderian.

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Pasadena crash kills 3

Who was in the car during the crash?

Samuel died at the scene, Pasadena police said. A varsity soccer player in high school, he attended Maranatha High School, a private Christian school in Pasadena.

Friends called him Mo, according to people who visited the memorial at the crash site. Among the memorial’s flowers and votive candles, friends also left behind a soccer ball.

Authorities estimate the Tesla Model 3 was traveling over 100 mph when it hit a curb and launched into the air before crashing into a building.

May 14, 2024

Stefan Michael Pfeiffer, 20, from Pasadena also died at the scene. He was one of the three passengers thrown from the back seat of the car during the crash, according to police.


“He was a humble guy and he didn’t like to show off. He was just very sweet to his grandfather and grandmother,” Pfeiffer’s friend, 20-year-old Sergio Nava, said at the crash site Monday as his voice broke.

The passenger in the Tesla’s front seat also died at the scene. Police have identified him only as a 22-year-old man, pending the notification of his family. Family members told news station KTLA-TV that the man is Esrom Fessemaye, and that he worked with Samuel at a gas station.

Along with Pfeiffer, two other passengers in the back seat of the Tesla were thrown from the vehicle during the crash, but they survived, according to police. A fourth passenger in the back seat, who was strapped in and not ejected, also survived.

Emerson Newquist, 20, from Pasadena and Bella Ramirez, 18, from Monrovia, were taken to a local hospital in stable condition, police said. The third survivor is an 17-year-old girl whose name has not been released by police; she was taken to a hospital and remained in critical condition as of Tuesday.

KTLA identified the girl as Samuel’s sister, Emily.

Newquist’s family said in a GoFundMe post that two of the men who died in the crash were his roommates.

“He is expected to make a full recovery though the process will be long and painful, both physically and emotionally,” the post said.


The suspect, identified by police as Ricardo Guade Andrade of San Fernando, crashed into the frontyard of a nearby home as he fled from police in Pasadena.

April 14, 2024

How the crash occurred

A toxicology exam will be done to determine if alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, Pasadena Police Lt. Anthony Russo said.

Samuel appeared to have lost control of the vehicle at a bend in the road when he struck the curb. At this stage in the investigation, it does not appear there was any malfunction of the 2018 Tesla Model 3, Russo said.

The Tesla crashed into a power pole, sending power lines down into the street. Power was out in a section of Pasadena on Saturday morning.

The aftermath of the crash

A steady stream of friends, family members and local residents have visited the memorial in the industrial section of Pasadena. Some prayed and others left flowers or messages in a pair of leather notebooks on the sidewalk. A skateboard that read “Mike” was propped against the door of the ruined building in tribute to Pfeiffer, one of numerous mementos placed to honor the victims.

Tesla has settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a Silicon Valley engineer who died in a crash while relying on the company’s semi-autonomous driving software.

April 9, 2024

Maranatha High School released a statement about the crash because some of the victims involved were or had been students at the school. A school official told KABC-TV that two of the survivors are students there, along with one of the victims, presumably referring to Samuel. Grief counselors were being made available to the school and community, according to the statement posted to Facebook on Sunday.

The school asked the public to respect the privacy of the families whose loved ones were involved in the crash.


“We are deeply saddened by this weekend’s tragic car accident that claimed precious young lives. We mourn this immense loss and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those affected,” the statement said. “During this difficult time, we turn to our faith in Christ Jesus for comfort and strength and ask others to join us in praying for all who are suffering due to this tragedy.”