- A family of four, including two children, survived the crash 15 miles south of San Francisco after a dramatic rescue.
At first, it appeared to be a story of a family’s miraculous survival from a spectacular car crash. On second glance by law enforcement, it turns out to be a case of alleged attempted murder.
On January 2, when rescue crews arrived at “Devil’s Slide,” a scenic but treacherous part of California Highway 1, to find a Tesla four-door sedan plunged 250 feet off the cliff, resting on the water’s edge after flipping several times. After observing through binoculars, the crews realized there were survivors. Brian Pottenger, the battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District, was quoted in news reports as saying, “we knew that we had at least one person that was alive.”
After a dramatic and highly technical operation that involved a helicopter, the crews, were able to rescue the family of four — two 41-year-old adults, and two children, a 7-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old boy. They were seriously injured and are being treated at Stanford hospital. That’s where the miracle part of the story ends.
On January 3, investigators said Dharmesh Arvind Patel, the vehicle’s driver, drove the Tesla off the cliff intentionally. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of his wife and children, and child abuse, the California Highway Patrol said.
“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” the agency said in a statement, according to NBC News. Authorities plan to book Patel on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of child abuse, the report said. He will be booked at San Mateo County Jail after he is discharged.
The Patels are residents of Pasadena.
Before the police suspected foul play, there were speculations in media reports that the car may have been operating on autopilot when it went off the cliff, which was later discounted.
Pottenger was quoted in news reports as saying that it was “very, very rare” for people to survive such a steep fall and that the children’s car seats may have saved their lives.