Pasadena father intentionally drove Tesla off NorCal cliff with his 2 kids, wife in car, CHP says

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023
SoCal dad accused of deliberately driving off cliff with family in car
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A Pasadena father has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse after authorities say he intentionally drove a Tesla off a cliff as his two children and his wife were still in the vehicle.

MONTARA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Pasadena father has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse after authorities say he intentionally drove a Tesla off a cliff as his two children and wife were still in the vehicle.

The Tesla plunged more than 250 feet off a Northern California cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway near an area known as Devil's Slide that's known for fatal wrecks.

Dharmesh A. Patel of Pasadena will be booked into San Mateo County Jail after he's released from a hospital, the highway patrol said in a statement. It wasn't immediately known if Patel has an attorney.

"CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene," the highway patrol statement said. "Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act."

Authorities say they weren't able to determine the Tesla's driving mode during the crash, however, they say it does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident.

Patel, his wife Neha, their 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son survived after their car tumbled down the cliffside Monday.

Patel is listed as a doctor at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

On Tuesday, the medical center released the following statement:

"Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation."

The car flipped a couple of times before landing on its wheels, wedged against the cliff just steps away from the ocean.

There was no guardrail at the spot where the sedan went off the cliff, officials said.

Crews pulled the kids out of the back window and brought them up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket using the rope system. They were rushed to the hospital by ambulance with musculoskeletal injuries.

The adults had traumatic injuries, however, and had to be hoisted up the cliff by a helicopter. They were then both flown to the hospital, the battalion chief said.

Eyewitness News spoke to several neighbors of the Patels who were stunned.

"They're like ideal neighbors. It seemed like they had a great holiday, they went to go see both parents. It just seemed very happy and great," neighbor Sarah Walker said.

The Patel's next door neighbor, Heather H., said she did notice something seemed off Tuesday and wondered why they hadn't come home yet.

"They're lovely people," she said. "This is really heartbreaking."

The investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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