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Man charged with attempted murder after intentionally driving off cliff in California with family inside

A Southern California man has been arrested for attempted murder and child abuse after California Highway Patrol officials say he intentionally drove a Tesla over a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway with his wife and two children in the car.

California Highway Patrol confirmed the driver of the car, 41-year-old Dharmesh A. Patel, of Pasadena, California, will face attempted murder and child abuse charges for the Jan. 2 incident. Patel is being treated for his injuries and will be booked into San Mateo County Jail upon his release from the hospital. According to Patel’s arrest report, the other occupants of the car were a 41-year-old female, a 7-year-old female and a 4-year-old male. All were rescued after they survived the 250 foot drop over the cliff at Devil’s Slide and landed near the shoreline below, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle flipped multiple times and landed mostly on its wheels. Rescuers were able to notice movement in the front seat while scanning the wrecked car from above with binoculars. Helicopters then assisted in rescuing the four people in the car.

The CHP said on Jan. 3 that investigators spent the evening of Jan. 2 interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene. They shared in a release noting Patel’s arrest: “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act. There has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in; however, that does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident.”

Editorial credit: Doug Meek /

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