The driver of this Tesla SUV died after it hit the centre median and flipped into oncoming traffic. File screen grab: KTVU via AP,

Washington DC - Tesla has been removed from the investigation into a fatal crash involving one of its autopiloted cars.

The company was barred from the investigation on Thursday after it released information before it had been checked by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Board chairman Robert Sumwalt said: "It is unfortunate that Tesla, by its actions, did not abide by the party agreement. While we understand the demand for information that parties face during an NTSB investigation, uncoordinated releases of incomplete information do not further transportation safety or serve the public interest."

On 23 March a Model X SUV hit the median strip of a road in the Californian city of Mountain View and flipped before being hit by oncoming vehicles. The male driver later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

Blame game

Two NTSB investigators were sent to examine the crash scene. A week after the crash, Tesla announced the driver of the Model X had turned on the autopilot, apparently laying the blame on him when the investigation had only just begun.

Earlier on Thursday Tesla said it had withdrawn from the investigation - but Sumwalt's statement contradicted that.

"We decided to revoke Tesla's party status," he said, "and informed CEO Elon Musk in a phone call on Wednesday evening and via letter on Thursday."

The board confirmed, however, that Tesla was still part of two other ongoing investigations of vehicle crashes in California.