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Tesla crash sparks police hunt for social media influencers involved in stunt

Click to play video: 'Los Angeles police offering $1K reward to identify Tesla driver who attempted dangerous stunt' Los Angeles police offering $1K reward to identify Tesla driver who attempted dangerous stunt
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) are offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who can help identify the driver of a rented Tesla Model-S that attempted a dangerous stunt, before crashing into a parked car and fleeing the scene – Mar 22, 2022

Los Angeles police have launched an investigation into social media influencer Durte Dom after he took credit for a dangerous viral stunt that saw a Tesla fly over the crest of a hill and crash into parked cars.

The LAPD’s central traffic division posted a $1,000 reward for information regarding the incident on Sunday evening, but later that night asked the public to stop reporting Dominykas Zeglaitis — who goes by Durte Dom on social media — after getting a deluge of reports.

They said in the tweet that the influencer is “considered a person of interest based on the public postings on his account.”

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Zeglaitis claimed that he was the one behind the wheel of the Tesla that night, when the car flew through the air and nearly flipped over its own hood before crashing into trash cans and two vehicles. Pieces of the car can be seen shattering off its front as it made impact with the road.

The video has since been deleted from Zeglaitis’s TikTok account but NBC reports that it showed the vlogger behind the wheel of a car before cutting to a shot of the Tesla launching over the Baxter Street hill in L.A.’s Echo Park. The video reportedly had 11 million views before it was removed.

“I just crashed my new Tesla,” read text that he superimposed over the video.

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The Tesla, which was a rented vehicle, was abandoned at the site of the crash. Police are investigating the stunt as a misdemeanour hit-and-run.

The LAPD said 90 per cent of tips they received that night were about Zeglaitis, but the others were about car YouTubers Alex Choi and Chaz Warren, who goes by the handle “chazzydawg.”

Police are also looking into these two influencers as videos of the stunt appear to show them as witnesses to the crash.

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Choi took to his Instagram story, however, to deny Zeglaitis’ claims that he drove the Tesla in the video, or was even present.

“DURTE DOM DID NOT JUMP THE TESLA,” he wrote. “Not sure why he’s lying to everyone and saying he did … I was there, saw everything and he wasn’t even there.”

Zeglaitis followed up his initial video, claiming to be the driver, with even more TikToks that have since been removed.

In one, Zeglaitis asserts he was intoxicated while performing the stunt. In another, he plays N.W.A’s F–k Tha Police in the background and wrote, “LAPD didn’t like my stunt.” He also shared a news clip of the crash with the caption, “look mom i’m famous.”

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Jordan Hook, the owner of one of the vehicles that was crashed into on Sunday evening, currently has a GoFundMe page up to help him cover the damages to his Subaru.

As of publication time, Hook has raised just under $17,000. The largest donation, at $2,000, came from an account under the name Alex Choi — though we cannot independently verify that it is the same Alex Choi who witnessed the crash.

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On the GoFundMe page, Hook says he is a local musician who was awoken by the sound of the Tesla crashing into his car.

“People were scrambling out of the crashed Tesla, grabbing their phones and cat (which apparently was in the car when it jumped) and getting into other Teslas that were all at this point clogging up the street. Then they just took off,” he wrote.

The Baxter Street hill, where the crash took place, has been the site of other dangerous social media stunts — and police are talking to the Department of Transportation about installing speed bumps at the location.

David Dobrik, whose internet famous ‘Vlog Squad’ used to include Zeglaitis, filmed a similar video at the spot.

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In the video, two motorbikes are seen gaining air off the hill before an influencer in Dobrik’s Vlog Squad attempts it in Dobrik’s own Tesla SUV. The car wasn’t going as fast as the Tesla involved in Sunday’s crash, but it still flew off the ground as it crested the hill.

Dobrik, the leader of the Vlog Squad, has come under fire in the past for using the unbalanced power dynamics within the group to put his friends in dangerous and uncomfortable situations in the name of entertainment.

When Zeglaitis was part of the Vlog Squad, allegations surfaced that he sexually assaulted a woman who was too drunk to consent to sex. The contents of that night were part of one of Dobrik’s vlogs, and other influencers present joked about the situation as it unfolded.

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Zeglaitis responded in a YouTube video saying he believed the encounter to be consensual but admitted his accuser was intoxicated.

A few months later, two more women came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Zeglaitis. While Zeglaitis has not directly addressed these allegations, in 2017 he apologized for aggressively pursuing women who he left unnamed.

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