On Monday, January 2, 2023, 41-year-old Dharmesh Patel drove his Tesla off a California cliff but managed to survive the 250 meter plunge.
His family, including two young children, were also present in the car during the horrific crash. According to police, all of them survived the plunge, which could easily have been fatal.
Days after the crash, authorities arrested Dharmesh Patel, who was behind the wheel. They believe that Patel intentionally drove the car with his wife and two children inside it off the California cliff.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced that the Pasadena physician will be charged with attempted murder and child abuse after he is discharged from the hospital.
In a statement, they said that the CHP investigators worked all night interviewing people and gathering evidence from the scene. They added that from the evidence they collected, they had enough probable cause to believe that the accident was an intentional one.
According to CBS News, police are yet to determine whether the Tesla involved in the incident had its Autopilot function on. However, they believe that the mode did not contribute to the crash. The CHP has refused to provide any further information as this is an ongoing investigation.
Police calls Dharmesh Patel and his family's survival an "absolute miracle"
At around 10:50 am on Monday, Dharmesh Patel was driving with his wife, 41-year-old Neha, and their two children - a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy. That was when the car tipped over the edge of a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway. This part of the highway is infamously known as the "Devil’s Slide.”
According to law enforcement officers, accidents happen at this specific location often and they do not leave behind any survivors. However, in a miraculous turn of events, the entire family survived the crash which mangled the Tesla beyond measure.
Authorities believe the car seemed to have flipped several times before coming to a stop on its wheels. While the four people involved in the crash were initially listed to be in critical condition, all were conscious and alert when the rescuers arrived at the scene.
Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for the Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire, said that they have seen multiple cases like these and the people never live after such a crash. He also went on to say that the family surviving the crash was an "absolute miracle."
Firefighters responding to the scene noticed movement inside the destroyed car through binoculars. This ensued a frantic rescue operation amidst rain, heavy winds and crashing waves.
They found the doors of the electric car jammed, so the survivors had to be cut out of the vehicle using "jaws of life" tools. The two children sustained musculoskeletal injuries, while Dharmesh Patel and his wife Neha suffered traumatic injuries and had to be flown to a hospital via helicopter.
Dharmesh Patel is reportedly a radiologist at the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles. In the wake of the crash, the medical Center has issued a statement:
"Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family."
The statement added that the people at the center were grateful that none of the family members sustained serious injuries.
Neighbors of the Patels have expressed their shock at the incident, and have said that the family were "ideal neighbors." Sarah Walker, a neighbor, told KABC that the family seemed like they had had a great holiday as they had just gone and seen both Dharmesh and Neha's parents. Walker added that everything seemed "very happy and great."
Other neighbors remember the family as "lovely people" and cannot think of a reason behind Dharmesh Patel's alleged actions.