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Man who drove Tesla off cliff with family inside released from hospital and booked into jail

Ethan Varian, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The man who authorities allege may have intentionally driven a Tesla carrying his wife and two young children off a 250-foot oceanside cliff south of Pacifica earlier this month — a crash first responders called a “miracle” after everyone survived — has been released from the hospital and taken to jail, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, a doctor from Pasadena, was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse, the district attorney’s office said Friday night.

Prosecutors will finish reviewing the case Monday morning. If they decide to bring charges, Patel will be arraigned in court in Redwood City on Monday afternoon.

Authorities did not say when Patel was released from the hospital. The condition of the rest of his family also was unclear.

In the wake of the Jan. 2 crash on Highway 1 near Devil’s Slide, the California Highway Patrol said investigators “developed probable cause to believe the incident was an intentional act” after interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence at the crash site.


High-profile crashes involving Tesla vehicles often raise questions about the role that driver assistance features might have played, but the CHP refuted that idea shortly after the crash.

“There has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in,” the CHP said in a news release. “However, that does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident.”


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