According to officials, a California man intentionally drove his Tesla off a treacherous cliff in San Mateo County Monday. Luckily, all occupants survived the 250-foot drop.
Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, of Pasadena, California was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse. The California Highway Patrol, Golden Gate Division said Patel would be transferred to the county jail once he was released from the hospital.
The incident occurred Monday morning along the Pacific Coast Highway in San Mateo County. A white Tesla carrying two adults and two children under the age of 10 careened off the road at Devil’s Slide and landed 250 feet below near the water’s edge.
Witnesses to the accident promptly called 911.
Cal Fire/Coastside Fire Incident Commander Brian Pottenger said that unfortunately it’s “fairly common” they receive calls about vehicles going over the cliffs, and it’s “very, very rare” for them to survive.
So it was a shock to all as emergency crews viewed the mangled mess from above and spotted movement in the vehicle.
“We were actually very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle. So that actually was a really hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said.
The complex rescue, though made slightly easier due to the vehicle landing on its wheels, involved multiple agencies and included the use of a helicopter.
Firefighters rappelled down the cliff and rescued the two children, ages 4 and 7. While they did suffer “minor musculoskeletal injuries,” Pottenger said their lives were saved thanks to the use of car seats.
Both adults were rescued by the helicopter crew. They were brought by air ambulance to a hospital where they received treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.
While the family received treatment for their injuries, officials investigated the crash and determined it had been “an intentional act.”
California Highway Patrol was unsure what driving mode the Tesla was in, but did not believe autopilot played a part.
This particular part of the Pacific Coast Highway is known to be difficult to drive. In 2013 a tunnel opened to make the road safer, however since then at least nine people have died in that stretch of road.
My prayers are with the survivors.