The wife of a California doctor who drove his Tesla over a 250-foot cliff told paramedics who came to their rescue that he had deliberately tried to kill her and their two young children.
Dharmesh Patel, 42, was arraigned on Monday on three counts of attempted murder by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office over the 2 January crash in a notorious section of the Pacific Coast Highway known as Devil’s Slide.
Mr Patel’s wife Neha told paramedics who pulled off a daring rescue operation to save the family that “he tried to kill us”, according to comments by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“She said very simply this was not an accident. We do believe the evidence establishes the necessary intent to kill,” Mr Wagstaffe told The Chronicle.
Mr Wagstaffe told the news site that witness statements from other motorists and cameras from a nearby tunnels had corroborated her account.
Authorities say Mr Patel, a radiologist from Pasadena, deliberately drive his Tesla Model Y sedan off a sheer 250-foot cliff at Devil’s Slide, just south of San Francisco.
His wife Neha, 41, and two young children aged 7 and 4 were injured in the crash.
Rescuers carried out a daring mission to reach the car, which had become wedged on rocks next to the ocean.
They were stunned that anyone had survived the fall, which occurred along a accident blackspot on the California coast.
After initially hailing the mission as a miraculous survival story, authorities revealed they had probable cause that the crash was intentional.
Mr Patel was released from hospital on Friday, and booked into San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse.
The three and a half weeks he had spent in hospital meant have the district attorney’s office time to methodically pursue the charges, Mr Wagstaffe added.
Once he was booked into jail, they had just 48 hours to lay charges, he told the Chronicle.
A criminal complaint obtained by The Independent states that the attempted murder charges include enhancements for domestic violence and causing great bodily injuries.
Mr Patel is being held without bail.
Mr Patel has declined all requests to speak to investigators, Mr Wagstaffe told The Chronicle.
He added that the Tesla was not in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, and the California Highway Patrol had found no signs that the vehicle had malfunctioned.
His wife remains hospitalised.