A man has been charged with attempted murder and child endangerment after driving his vehicle off a cliff with his wife and two young children inside. Dharmesh Patel, 42, is accused of deliberately driving the Tesla Model Y off a cliff called the Devil's Slide near San Francisco on Monday, January 2, in what investigators are calling a murder-suicide that went wrong for the Pasadena radiologist, but was a miracle for the family. Despite falling 250 ft down a steep cliff, all four family members survived. Here's what witnesses saw.
The Patel family were reportedly on a trip north to San Francisco when the incident occurred. Witnesses say they saw the car do a U-Turn and drive up onto the dirt area before veering right off the side of the cliff. The car then flipped several times before landing upright, with all four family members, including wife Neha, 41, and the kids aged four and seven, miraculously escaping serious injury.
Occupants Are Alive
California Highway Patrolmen were shocked when they got near the car and realized the occupants were still alive. An extensive rescue operation went underway, with emergency teams rappelling down the cliff to get close to the car. A helicopter was also there to airlift the family to safety.
Charged In Hospital
All four family members were taken to Stanford hospital, and Dharmesh was formally charged with attempted murder and child endangerment. He was arrested at 9 pm on Monday and will be taken to San Mateo county jail when he recovers.
"CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene. Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act," the CHP said.
There is no evidence that the Tesla went "rogue" in self-driving mode, with investigators saying there "has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in." CHP says the driving mode "does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident…This remains an ongoing investigation and no further information is being released at this time."
Elon Musk responded to the incident on Twitter, in response to a Tesla (non-official) account which tweeted: "UPDATE: Initial media reports were incorrect. The two adults suffered non life-threatening injuries, and the two children were UNHARMED…after their Model Y fell 250ft down a steep cliff. If you want to keep your family safe, buy a @Tesla." "Good news," Musk responded. The Tesla Model Y has several airbags which inflated, including seat-mounted and curtain airbags.