A 42-year-old Pasadena man has been arrested for allegedly intentionally driving a Tesla approximately 250-300 feet down a cliff off Highway 1 in Northern California on Monday with three other people inside the vehicle, including two children, authorities said Tuesday.
The three victims all survived the crash in what a local fire chief called “an absolute miracle.”
Dharmesh A. Patel has been placed under arrest for attempted murder and child abuse, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officers with the CHP’s San Francisco area office were dispatched to a call of a vehicle over the cliff side on SR-1, just south of the Tom Lantos tunnels in unincorporated San Mateo County, at about 10:50 a.m. Monday. Emergency personnel repelled down to the vehicle and found four occupants — a 41-year-old woman, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. They were all taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
“CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene,” the agency said in a news release. “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act. … There has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in; however, that does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident,” the statement continued.
Patel was being treated for his injuries at Stanford Hospital and will be booked into San Mateo County Jail upon his release from the hospital, the CHP added.
Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire, said he was amazed that the occupants survived the crash.
“We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live,” Pottenger said, the Los Angeles Times reported. “This was an absolute miracle.”
Any witnesses to the crash were asked to contact the CHP’s San Francisco area office at 415-557-1094.