Driver of Tesla that plunged off Calif. cliff arrested for attempted murder

▶ Watch Video: Father arrested for allegedly intentionally driving Tesla off cliff

California officials say the driver of a Tesla that plummeted over 250 feet off a San Mateo highway Monday has been arrested for attempted murder and child abuse.

Dharmesh A. Patel, of Pasadena, California, was behind the wheel of the vehicle when it went over the side of a coastal road at a spot known as the Devil’s Slide, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Also inside were another adult and two children, who haven’t been identified.

All four survived and were transported to a local hospital for treatment of what the CHP says were serious injuries.  

Charging documents show that the other adult was a 41-year-old woman, and the two children were a girl, aged 7, and a boy, aged 4. The documents didn’t specify what their relationship is to Patel. California Highway Patrol later identified them as his wife and children.

tesal-off-californai-cliff-010223.jpg This image from video provided by San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office shows a Tesla vehicle that plunged off a Northern California cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway oln Jan. 2, 2023, near an area known as Devil’s Slide.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office via AP

The CHP announced Tuesday that Patel was under arrest, adding that he’s still being treated for his injuries, but will be booked into the San Mateo County Jail once he’s released from the hospital. 

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

The charging documents show that Patel, 42, was arrested at 9 p.m. Monday and didn’t resist arrest. 

Officials are continuing to investigate the crash, the CHP said, adding that there “has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in.”

The electric vehicles have a self-driving feature and a manual option, but whichever one was in use, CHP said the driving mode “does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident.” 

“This remains an ongoing investigation and no further information is being released at this time,” the CHP said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Patel has been arrested but hasn’t been charged yet. The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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