‘Elon should be shot!’ Mother of hero British caver says billionaire Musk needs his mouth taped up for calling her son ‘pedo guy’
The mother of a hero British caver who helped save 12 Thai schoolboys trapped in a cave said billionaire Elon Musk ‘should be shot’ for calling her son ‘pedo guy’.
Musk hit out after cave expert Vernon Unsworth dismissed his offer to build a mini submarine to free the boys as a PR stunt.
Although the billionaire entrepreneur has since apologised, Mr Unsworth’s mother said that he needed to have his mouth taped shut.
Speaking from her home in Braintree in Essex, Vera Unsworth said: ‘I think he should be shot for what he said.
‘He wants his mouth taped up. I don’t know if Veron will seek legal recourse, if he has any sense he will.
‘If I had my way I’d put him against a wall and shoot him, it’s disgusting coming from a millionaire as well. He probably thinks money doesn’t hurt him and he can get away with anything.
‘I hope he does take legal action but the point will be he has got the money and Vernon hasn’t. I’m shocked I don’t really know what to say.’
The 88-year-old added that her son, who arrived back in the UK yesterday, was staying in London and would visit her in the next few days.
Musk’s investors have called on him to ‘take a Twitter sabbatical’ after he ‘crossed a line’ with the baseless remark.
The tweet on Sunday sent investors away from Tesla stock, which fell nearly three per cent before recovering.
The ‘pedo’ comment was the latest controversy to dog the green energy CEO this year, following a series of social media attacks on journalists and employees, an outburst at analysts during an earnings call and a bizarre row over a farting unicorn.
He has also been unmasked as one of the top 50 donors to a political action committee dedicated to helping Republicans maintain control of the House – despite the party largely ignoring or denying climate change.
Mr Unsworth, who was instrumental in the rescue of the trapped youngsters, said today that he was aware of the apology, but would not comment further when asked about a settlement or possible legal action. Also asked how he had heard of the apology, he repeated he had no further comment.
The South African born inventor admitted that his ‘words were spoken in anger’ after Mr Unsworth had dismissed as a ‘PR stunt’ his plan to recover the children from the flooded Tham Luang caves using a miniature submarine.
Responding to a Twitter user who had shared an article about the dispute, the Silicon Valley billionaire wrote: ‘As this well-written article suggests, my words were spoken in anger after Mr Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.
‘Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.’
Musk’s spat with Unsworth started last week, after rescue teams rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to help extract the youth soccer team and the coach from the labyrinth of partly flooded passages.
‘It just has absolutely no chance of working,’ CNN quoted Unsworth as saying about the submarine. He also said Musk could ‘stick his submarine where it hurts’.
Musk responded on Twitter on Sunday saying: ‘We will make one (video) of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problem. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.’
The Tweet was later deleted, but the diver said yesterday he had been approached by British and American lawyers and would seek legal advice over Musk’s extraordinary tirade.
Mr Unsworth said he hadn’t flatly denied Musk’s accusation because he was waiting for legal advice.
Asked why he thought Musk would make such a comment about him, he said: ‘I don’t know.’
A police officer in the Chiang Rai, where Unsworth has lived for seven years, said that no charges or complaints had ever been filed against Unsworth. The officer declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Unsworth, 63, said he hadn’t actually met Musk face to face when Musk visited the cave during the rescue.
He said he felt sorry that the squabble with Musk had detracted from the successful end to the rescue mission.
‘It’s taken a bit of the pleasure out of what’s happened, what we’ve achieved, for me anyway,’ he said, adding that it had upset his ex-wife and daughter back in Britain. ‘It’s very much upset my daughter,’ the caver said, his voice breaking.
Shares of Tesla Inc fell more than 3.5 per cent on Monday, knocking almost $2billion off the company’s market value.
Several analysts and investors, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Musk’s comments were adding to their concerns that his public statements were distracting him from Tesla’s main business of producing electric cars.
Venture capital firm Loup Ventures issued a statement on behalf of investors this week saying the ‘pedo’ comment ‘crossed the line’ and called for an apology.
The letter said: ‘Over the last 6 months, there have been too many examples of concerning behavior that is shaking investor confidence.’
It added: ‘The exchange with Vern Unsworth crossed the line. I suspect you would agree given you deleted the string from Twitter, but it will take more than that to regain investor confidence.
‘Your behavior is fueling an unhelpful perception of your leadership – thin-skinned and short-tempered.
‘Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology. Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission. You might consider taking a Twitter sabbatical.’
This is the most brand-damaging thing Elon Musk has ever done,’ said Roger Kay, analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates who follows the technology sector.