Authorities say a 41-year-old California man faces many charges after allegedly driving down a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway with his wife and two children. The Tesla’s four occupants escaped the crash Monday after the car dropped 250 to 300 feet into a rocky beach region known as Devil’s Slide, some 20 miles south of San Francisco, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Dharmesh Arvind Patel, 41, of Pasadena, was detained and will be charged with attempted murder and child abuse once he is released from the hospital, according to the highway patrol. Firefighters rappelled down the rock to save the two children, ages 4 and 7, while a helicopter team rescued the two adults from the vehicle. The Tesla was 250 to 300 feet down, according to officials.
A shattered car can be seen at the bottom of the cliff, barely feet from the rushing waves, in a stunning video posted by the Golden Gate Division Air Operations. “We were very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle,” Brian Pottenger, the incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told NBC. “So that actually was a hopeful moment for us.” Pottenger also noted that it is “very, very rare” for people to survive such an ordeal, noting that the children’s car seats likely played a role in saving their lives.
Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act. The crash was reported to the highway patrol at about 10:50 a.m. on Monday. When first responders arrived, all four people were conscious, and the two children were fastened in their car seats, which had not been damaged, according to Pottenger. Everyone was stuck inside the damaged automobile.