Questions raised over EV maker in Pleasanton crash that killed family

As officials investigate a fiery crash that killed a family of four in Pleasanton, there are more questions than answers two weeks later after a complaint with a federal safety agency was filed.

Police said Tarun George was driving a VinFast electric car with his wife in the passenger seat, and his two sons, Aaron and Rowan George, in the back. 

Police said the car was traveling on Foothill Road when it hit a pole, then a tree, causing a massive blaze and killing the four occupants.

The loss of the George family continues to impact the community.

Two weeks later, a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that the George family did not own the Vietnamese electric car, but they were borrowing it from a coworker.

The owner of the vehicle filed the complaint last week, writing that before the crash on multiple occasions, the steering wheel was automatically veering to the right, even when lane assist was turned on.

On April 24, the complaint said the owner was "concerned that the failure recurred," while the George family was driving.

NHTSA has received eight other complaints about the VinFast model dating back to last summer, and at least three of them mention steering and lane assist issues.

Phil Recht, an attorney who formerly worked as Chief Counsel for NHTSA said patterns usually catch the agency’s eye.

SEE ALSO: Speed possible factor in Pleasanton crash that killed family of four

"If [NHTSA] sees multiple complaints about an activity or performance issues that appear to be similar, and particularly if they create severe risk, these are the circumstances under which NHTSA will conduct an initial or preliminary evaluation," Recht said.

Pleasanton police confirmed George was driving a VinFast that first hit a pole on Foothill Road and then slammed into a tree, causing a fire that first responders had trouble extinguishing.

While that’s not uncommon in EV fires, police said the fire reignited after it was put out.

Larry Lai, who lives off Foothill Road, told KTVU he heard what he thought were multiple explosions.

"On that night, I heard a big crash sound, boom," Lai said. "Every five to 10 seconds, a big boom, maybe around five to eight times."

In a statement from VinFast, a spokesperson wrote, "VinFast is aware of this tragic accident and our hearts go out to the family. the authorities are currently investigating the cause of the accident and will share their findings when their work is completed."

"It's really too early to tell exactly what was at play in this crash," said Recht.

Pleasanton police said the crash is still under investigation. 

Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau said they are not done with the autopsy report.

As it stands, the NHTSA has not begun a federal investigation into the make and model.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.

Crystal Bailey is a KTVU reporter. E-mail Crystal at and follow her on Twitter @crystalbaileytv.