The Pasadena doctor charged with the attempted murder of his wife and their two young children by intentionally driving their Tesla off the slide of a 250ft cliff has been pictured today for the first time.
Dharmesh A. Patel, 42, works as a radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Pasadena.
He is accused of intentionally driving his white Tesla Model Y off a cliff known as Devil’s Slide on Monday near San Francisco, during a trip north.
Miraculously, all four members of the family – Patel, his wife Neha and their kids aged four and seven – survived without any serious injuries.
Dharmesh A. Patel works as a radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Pasadena. He is charged with attempted murder and child abuse for allegedly intentionally driving his wife and their two kids off the side of a cliff in their Tesla
The car was traveling northbound on Highway 1 near San Francisco on Monday morning. Witnesses said they saw Patel perform a U-Turn and drive up onto the dirt area before plunging down the cliff
The rescue effort at dusk on Monday after emergency teams realized the family was alive
There is no indication the car was in self-driving mode when it veered off the road. The car’s interiors remained largely intact despite the huge drop
The huge drop from the highway to the scene of the crash. The family members were airlifted to safety
Initially, there were questions over whether the car – which is famous for its self-driving technology – had gone rogue and taken the family off the road by mistake.
Now, some are asking whether the vehicle – which has airbags adjacent to the two front seats in addition to in front of them – actually saved them.
On Tuesday, police charged Patel with attempted homicide and child abuse, alleging that the incident was an attempted murder-suicide gone wrong.
He has not yet been formally booked, and is still in Stanford Hospital.
It’s unclear whether his wife and kids are still receiving treatment in the hospital, or if they have been discharged.
Neighbors told CBS News of their shock after learning the allegations against Patel.
Sheriff’s deputies work to free the car after the family was airlifted to safety
Rescue teams had to abseil down the side of the cliff while others used helicopters to try to reach the family
The scene of the rescue. California Highway Patrolmen said they were stunned when they got closer to the car and realizes its occupants were still alive
Witnesses said they saw the vehicle driving at high speed along the highway before it veered off course
The Tesla Model Y – which is the vehicle the family was in – has multiple airbags. There are front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, and curtain airbags, all of which appeared to inflate. Police are yet to confirm whether this saved the family
Elon Musk responded to a fan account about the family surviving the crash by saying ‘Good news.’ The fan account said the Tesla saved the Patel family, which is yet to be confirmed
Roger Newmark, who lives several doors down from the family on a leafy Pasadena street, said: ‘They’re the sweetest couple and they have the greatest two little kids.’
The hospital where Patel works released a statement on Tuesday.
‘Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family.
‘We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation.’
Among those to comment on the case was Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Neighbors described the family as ‘sweet’ and ‘great’. They were stunned to learn of the charges against Patel
In response to a tweet about how the family survived, Musk said: ‘Good news.’
His fans say the fact that they all did survive is proof of just how safe Tesla vehicles are.
Police are yet to complete their investigation into the crash, and are yet to confirm why they think the family survived.
They think the vehicle suffered one initial hit, then flipped multiple times in the air before landing upright, on its wheels.
‘The damage to the vehicle would indicate that it hit, and then flipped several times,’ Brian Pottenger, battalion chief with Cal Fire’s Coastside Fire Protection District, said afterwards.
The family’s home in Pasadena where neighbors described them as ‘sweet’ and ‘great’