The driver of a car that plunged off a cliff in Northern California, seriously injuring two children and a second adult after falling 250 feet, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child molestation, he said Tuesday ( 01.03.2023) the California Highway Patrol.
The driver allegedly left the road on purpose to kill himself and the other occupants of the vehicle, police said on Tuesday (local time), according to the media.
Dharmesh A. Patel of Pasadena will be booked into the San Mateo County jail after being released from a hospital, the highway patrol said in a statement. It was not immediately known if Patel has an attorney.
“CHP investigators worked through the night interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence from the scene,” the highway patrol statement said. “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe that this incident was an Intentional Act.”
Four people were in the car.
Patel, 42, was in the car with a 41-year-old woman, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, according to court documents cited by CBS News. It was not immediately clear if they were all members of the same family.
However, Patel is a doctor of radiology at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles, and a statement issued by the hospital on Tuesday indicated that members of his family were in the car.
“Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family,” the statement, reported by KABC-TV, read. “We are very grateful that there were no serious injuries. We will not be responding further as this incident is under investigation.”
All passengers survive the accident
Authorities said it was a miracle that all four survived after the car plunged off a notorious cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway near an area called Devil’s Slide that is known for fatal wrecks.
The Tesla sedan plummeted more than 250 feet from the freeway and crashed into a rock outcrop. It appears to have flipped several times before landing on its wheels, wedged against the cliff a few feet from the surf, Brian Pottenger, Coastside Fire Protection District/Cal Fire battalion chief, said Monday.
Accidents on Devil’s Slide, a rugged, rocky and winding coastal area about 15 miles south of San Francisco between Pacifica and Montara, rarely result in survivors. On Monday, the victims were initially in critical condition, but all four were conscious and alert when rescue teams arrived.
“We go there all the time because of cars that go off the cliff and never survive. This has been a real miracle,” Pottenger said Monday.
According to authorities, there was no guardrail where the sedan fell off the cliff.
Rescue crews at the scene where a Tesla with four occupants plunged off a cliff on Pacific Coast Highway.
The incident turned from what had probably been a recovery of bodies to a rescue operation that lasted several hours amid constant rain, strong winds, slippery roads and breaking waves. The doors were crushed against the cliff and stuck, so the firefighters were forced to remove the victims from the car using the so-called “jaws of life”.
Firefighters removed the children through the rear window and hauled them up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket using the rope system. They were taken to the hospital by ambulance with musculoskeletal injuries.
However, the adults had traumatic injuries and had to be lifted out by helicopter. Both were then airlifted to hospital, the battalion chief said.
In 2018, a woman intentionally plunged off another Northern California cliff in an SUV with her wife and six adopted children, according to investigators. All were killed. The accident in Mendocino County occurred just days after Washington state authorities opened an investigation into allegations that Jennifer Hart’s children were being neglected.
FEW (AP, dpa)