A California man intentionally drove a Tesla off a 250-foot cliff in an attempt to kill himself and his family, authorities said Tuesday.
The driver, his wife and children survived and were rescued Monday in Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County, the California Highway Patrol said.
Dharmesh Arvind Patel, 41, of Pasadena, was arrested and will be charged with attempted murder and child abuse charges once he is released from the hospital, according to the highway patrol.
The rescue involved firefighters rappelling down the cliff to rescue the two children, ages 4 and 7, and a helicopter team that rescued the two adults from the vehicle, authorities said.
The Tesla was between 250 and 300 feet deep, according to the CHP.
“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe that this incident was an intentional act,” the agency said in a statement.
Brian Pottenger, incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said witnesses called 911 after the crash around 10:50 a.m.
He said it was “very, very rare” for people to survive such a steep fall and that child safety seats could have saved their lives.
“We were actually quite surprised when we found surviving victims in the vehicle. So it was actually a hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said.
The car was traveling south on State Route 1 when it went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide, south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels, landing near the water’s edge, the fire department said. He somersaulted and landed on his wheels.
The children had moderate injuries, Pottenger said.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday night if Patel had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
In 2018, in Mendocino County, which is located on the California coast, two women and their six adopted children were killed in a cliff-walking accident that authorities determined was intentional.
A special coroner’s jury later found that Jennifer and Sarah Hart committed suicide and their children in a murder-suicide.