Authorities claim that the driver of a Tesla that plunged 250 feet off a notorious California cliff on Monday intended to drive over the edge with his wife and two children inside.
California Highway Patrol said in a statement that Dr. Dharmesh Patel, 41, of Pasadena, will be arrested on charges of attempted murder and child abuse once he is released from the hospital.
“CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene,” a statement from the highway patrol stated.
“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act.”
Patel, his wife, Neha, and their two children – a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy – miraculously survived after their electric car careened off the notoriously treacherous Devil’s Slide on Monday.
According to reports, the vehicle flipped several times before coming to rest on its wheels.
KABC reported that Patel is a radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles.
“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,” according to a statement released by the hospital on Tuesday.
“We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation,” the statement stated.
As of yet, investigators have not determined what mode the Tesla was in – including whether Autopilot was turned on – but they do not believe that it contributed to the crash, CBS News reported.
“This remains an ongoing investigation and no further information is being released at this time,” according to the California Highway Patrol.
The Patels’ neighbors were shocked to learn of the crash 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,” said Sarah Walker to KABC.
A neighbor of the couple, Heather H., described the couple as “lovely people.”
Although all four family members were initially listed in critical condition, they were conscious and alert when rescuers arrived. At the point where the white Tesla crossed the edge, there was no guardrail.
“We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle,” said Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire.
Firefighters were lowered down the cliff by using a rope system set up by the first responders, Pottenger said.
Other firefighters using binoculars noticed movement from the mangled vehicle and the incident quickly developed into a frantic rescue operation amid rain, heavy winds, and crashing waves.
Firefighters were forced to use so-called “jaws of life” tools in order to remove the victims from the wreckage since the car’s doors were jammed shut.
With the aid of a rope system, the children were pulled out of the back window and brought up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket.
A medical ambulance transported them to the hospital with musculoskeletal injuries.
Their parents had sustained traumatic injuries and were airlifted to a hospital by a helicopter, according to the battalion chief.
In 2018, another woman intentionally drove off a cliff in Northern California with her wife and their six adopted children, authorities reported. All of them were killed.
Mendocino County authorities launched an investigation after allegations that Jennifer Hart’s children were neglected, shortly before the crash in Mendocino County.