Forty-one-year-old Dharmesh A Patel allegedly drove the car off the treacherous cliff and was arrested on counts of attempted murder and child abuse.
By: Shubham Ghosh
The driver of the Tesla vehicle that fell from a height of around 250 metres over a treacherous cliff in California, US, earlier in January has been released from the hospital and taken to a local jail on grounds of suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse, Associated Press reported.
Dharmesh A Patel, 41, is now held without bail at the San Mateo County Jail over the incident, which left his wife and two young kids injured.
This afternoon, deputies responded to a solo vehicle over the side of Hwy 1 south of the Tom Lantos tunnel. Two adults suffered non-life threatening injuries and two children were unharmed. Tremendous collaborative effort btwn SMSO, @CHP_GoldenGate and @calfireSCU pic.twitter.com/sVyKp6LSrc
— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) January 3, 2023
San Mateo district attorney’s office told the AP that the man could be arraigned on Monday (30) if criminal charges are filed.
It was not clear whether the accused had a lawyer to comment on his behalf, PEOPLE reported.
Patel was arrested at the Stanford Hospital earlier this month, as per an arrest report by California Highway Patrol, PEOPLE added.
It was said that Patel, a resident of Pasadena and a radiologist by profession, was located after the cops were alerted of “a vehicle over the side of the cliff on SR-1” around 10.50 am local time on January 2.
The passengers inside the badly damaged vehicle included a woman, 41, and two children, aged seven and four, besides Patel. They were reportedly taken to hospital with serious injuries. The vehicle was found to have fallen somewhere between 250 and 300 feet off the Devil’s Slide, as the northern California cliff is known as.
Authorities said that it was nothing less than a miracle that the passengers survived the deadly fall. The children escaped with moderate injuries.
The highway patrol had previously said that it did not believe that the vehicle’s self-drive feature was the reason behind the accident.
“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” it said in a statement.
Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire, said later that the car seemed to have “flipped several times” before landing on its wheels on a beach, the PEOPLE report added.
Police personnel saw “movement in the front seat” when they arrived at the scene.
“We knew we had at least one person that was alive,” he said. “We were actually very shocked.”
Firefighters rappelled down the cliff to save the two children while a helicopter crew took the two adults to safety, NBC News reported.
Neighbours of Patel’s family told Los Angeles Times that they considered them a happy and peaceful one with no issues whatsoever. Patel, an employee at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, was often seen playing with the kids, according to neighbours.
“Really I can’t believe it,” neighbor Sarah Walker told the Times.
“No one can believe it. They felt like newlyweds. The way they interact and look at each other, it just felt like they should be together.”
Patel was later arrested.