SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. – A California doctor is accused of intentionally driving a Tesla off a cliff with his family aboard in San Mateo County on Monday. The car plunged 250 feet over a notorious rocky bluff. The physician will face charges, according the authorities.
Dharmesh Patel, a 41-year-old doctor from Pasadena, was identified as the driver. The California Highway Patrol said in a statement that he will be booked on attempted murder and child abuse charges once he is out of a hospital, ABC 7 reported.
“CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene,” the police agency said in a statement. “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act.”
Rescuers were “shocked” to see survivors in the destroyed Tesla that plunged about 250 feet from “Devil’s Slide.” (San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office)
Dharmesh Patel, his wife, Neha, and their children — a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy — miraculously survived the perilous crash. (Facebook / Neha Patel)
Aboard the vehicle with Patel was his wife, Neha, and their two children, a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy. Miraculously, they all survived after the vehicle flew off the notoriously perilous portion of the Pacific Coast Highway known as the “Devil’s Slide” about 10:50 a.m. Monday. The automobile reportedly flipped several times before coming to rest right side up, according to the New York Post.
Investigators have not yet determined what driving mode the Tesla was in. However, they do not believe the mode —- whether autopilot or conventional — contributed to the wreck, CBS News reported.
“This remains an ongoing investigation and no further information is being released at this time,” the CHP said.
Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles lists Patel as a radiologist, ABC 7 reported.
The California Highway Patrol said Dharmesh Patel, pictured with his wife and two kids, will be booked on attempted murder and child abuse charges once he is out of a hospital. (Facebook / Neha Patel)
“Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries,” the hospital told the outlet in a statement Tuesday.
“We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation,” it added.
Apparently PHCMC was unaware of the life-threatening injuries involved in the intentional act.
Dharmesh Patel is pictured with his wife Neha. (Facebook / Neha Patel)
“We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle,” Fire Chief Brian Pottenger noted. (San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office)
Several of the Patel’s neighbors were stunned to learn of the horrific incident and subsequent arrest.
“They’re like ideal neighbors. It seemed like they had a great holiday, they went to go see both parents. It just seemed very happy and great,” Sarah Walker told ABC 7.
Heather H. lives next door to the family. She said they are a “lovely people.”
Amazingly, all four family members were conscious and alert when rescuers arrived, but they were initially listed in critical condition.
There was no guardrail at the specific location where the family’s Tesla flew over the edge.
“We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle,” Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire, said Monday.
First responders set up a rope system from the highway to lower firefighters down the cliff, Pottenger said.
The car’s doors were jammed shut, so firefighters were forced to cut the victims out of the wreckage using the “jaws of life” amid rain, heavy winds and crashing waves.
The children were freed from the wreckage out of the back window and ascended up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket using the rope system. They were subsequently rushed to the hospital by ambulance with musculoskeletal injuries.
The parents suffered traumatic injuries and were hoisted by a helicopter that flew them to the hospital, according to the the battalion chief.
The CHP said the investigation remains ongoing.