A 41-year-old Indian-origin man has been arrested in the US on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse after he intentionally drove a Tesla off a cliff with his wife and two children inside, according to media reports.
Dharmesh A Patel of Pasadena, California, will be booked into San Mateo County Jail after he is released from a hospital, the highway patrol said in a statement. Patel, his wife and children survived and were rescued on Monday at Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County, the California Highway Patrol said.
The rescue involved firefighters who rappelled down the cliff to save the two children, a 4-year-old girl, and a 9-year-old boy. A helicopter crew rescued the two adults from the vehicle, NBC News, an American broadcast television network, said.
The rescue was described as almost miraculous, The New York Times newspaper said.
The Tesla was 250 to 300 feet down, according to the highway patrol.
“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” it said in a statement.
Brian Pottenger, the incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said witnesses called 911 after the crash.
He said that it was “very, very rare” for people to survive such a steep fall and that the children’s car seats may have saved their lives.
“We were actually very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle. So that actually was a hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said. The children had moderate injuries, Pottenger said.
Authorities plan to book Patel on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of child abuse, said Officer Andrew Barclay, a spokesman for the highway patrol’s Golden Gate Division.