US doctor charged over Tesla cliff plunge with family on board

Rescuers examine the wreckage of the Tesla (Picture: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

A doctor has been charged with attempted murder after his family survived being driven over a 250ft cliff in a Tesla.

Dharmesh Arvind Patel, 41, was at the wheel when the car plunged down Devil’s Side cliff outside Pacifica, California, with wife Neha, 41, and their two children aged four and seven on board.

Rescuers hailed a ‘miracle’ after finding everyone still alive and conscious, but believe the radiologist ‘intentionally’ tried to kill his family.

‘Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,’ said a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Rescuers with cutting gear used ropes to rapel over the cliff edge to the wrecked car on the rocks below before finding the children with only minor injuries.

The children were hoisted on stretchers back up the cliff while helicopters were scrambled to bring Dr Patel and his injured wife to safety.

Robin Johnson told NBC she saw the car leave the road at 10.50am on Monday as she drove alongside it on Highway 1.

It was nothing short of a miracle that they survived

‘Wow, he’s driving extremely fast to take that exit,’ she recalled thinking, ‘You’re not even supposed to be going up that way.

‘And I can see in my rear-view mirror this car just go over the edge and straight down.’

Helicopter rescue

Helicopters were scrambled to bring Dr Patel and his injured wife to safety (Picture: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Tesla wreckage

The Tesla was barely recognisable after falling over the cliff (Picture: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The CHP has yet to discover which ‘driving mode’ the Tesla was in at the time of the crash but a spokesman said it ‘does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident’.

The family was taken to the Stanford Medical Centre where Dr Patel was arrested and charged with attempted murder and child abuse.

Devil’s Side cliff

Storms battered rescuers as they tried to reach the base of the cliff (Picture: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

‘We came out here, unfortunately for things like this,’ said Brian Pottenger of the Coastside Fire Protection District.

‘And it was nothing short of a miracle that they survived.’

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