MONTARA, Calif. (AP) — The driver of a car that plunged 250 feet off a treacherous cliff in northern California, injuring his two young children and his wife, was released from the hospital and jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse, authorities said Friday.
Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, was booked into jail, where he was being held without bail and could be arraigned Monday afternoon if the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office decides to file criminal charges, that office said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Patel had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
The Pasadena man was seriously injured when the Tesla sedan went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide along the Pacific Coast Highway on Jan. 2.
Rescuers initially hailed the family’s survival as a miracle after the sedan plummeted in an area about 15 miles south of San Francisco that’s known for fatal wrecks.
Firefighters were forced to cut the family, including Patel’s 41-year-old wife, 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, out of the wreckage.
Patel was later arrested after California Highway Patrol investigators “developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” the agency said.
However, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe this week said that investigators are also examining the Tesla Model Y to rule out the possibility of a mechanical problem.
“Did the brakes fail? Were the brakes working? Were there any other mechanical malfunctions that would have led to him not being able to stop the vehicle?” Wagstaffe told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re having the car looked at from top to bottom.”