On the morning of January 2 Monday, a Tesla fell off a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway, located about 20 miles south of San Francisco, California.
All of the four occupants of the white Tesla sedan miraculously survived the incident – the car plunged approximately 250 feet into a rocky beach area called the “Devil’s Slide”.
The driver was identified to be a 40-year-old California doctor named Dharmesh Patel, of Pasadena, who is accused of attempting to murder his family as he intentionally drove a Tesla Model Y off Devil’s Slide, California Highway Patrol said.
Patel, his wife and two children miraculously survived, albeit suffering moderate injuries. The children, a 4-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, were rescued by firefighters who rappelled down the cliff and scooped them out of the back window, while a helicopter crew rescued the two adults out of the vehicle. All of them are still recovering at the hospital.
A video footage shared by the CHP rescue team showed the battered SUV right-side up, perched unsteadily on a rocky ledge just above the Pacific Ocean.
Brian Pottenger, the incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said witnesses called 911 to report the crash at around 10:50 a.m. He said it was “very, very rare” for people to remain alive after such a steep fall and the children’s car seats may have also helped save their lives, “We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle.”
Jose Granda, a professor of mechanical engineering at the California State University and an expert on accident reconstruction, says that the case of this family’s improbable survival is likely because of luck and a well-built vehicle. Based on computer simulations, he concludes the car did not flip nor did it smash into the cliffside.
If it had, Granda said that the roof might have totally collapsed and killed everyone inside.
Authorities haven’t yet identified a motive. Once he is released from the Stanford Hospital, Patel, who works at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, will be brought into the San Mateo County Jail on charges of attempted murder and child abuse.
The hospital said in a statement, “We were deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no severe injuries.”