Driver of Tesla that went over cliff on Highway 1 is moved from hospital to jail

Emergency workers inspecting wreckage of car on beach
Emergency workers inspect a car that went over a cliff off Highway 1 on Jan. 2.
(Sgt. Brian Moore / San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver of a car that plunged 250 feet off a cliff along Highway 1 in Northern California, injuring his two young children and his wife, has been released from the hospital and jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse.

Dharmesh Arvind Patel of Pasadena was booked into jail and is being held without bail, the San Mateo County district attorney’s office said Friday. Patel, 41, could be arraigned Monday afternoon if prosecutors decide to file criminal charges.

The district attorney’s office didn’t indicate exactly when Patel was released from the hospital, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.


Arvind was seriously injured when the family’s Tesla sedan went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide, along 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.

Neighbors in Pasadena were shocked to hear that friendly, soft-spoken Dharmesh Patel was charged with attempted murder after driving the family’s Tesla off the cliff on Highway 1.

Patel was later arrested after California Highway Patrol investigators “developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” the agency said.

However, Dist. Atty. 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 said in an interview with The Times. “We’re having the car looked at from top to bottom.”