Man Who Drove Tesla Off Cliff Charged With Attempted Murder

A photo of three rescuers examining the mutilated Tesla at the base of a cliff.

California prosecutors charged Dharmesh Patel, a 41-year-old radiologist from Southern California, with three counts of attempted murder for driving a Tesla with his family from a 250 foot cliff earlier this month.

On Monday, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office charged Patel with attempted murder after receiving statements from his wife, who was in the car and remains hospitalized, people driving behind Patel, and videos from the tunnel in had checked close to the incident January 2nd. The indictment included specific allegations of domestic violence and causing aggravated assault This is reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We believe the evidence supports the necessary intent to kill,” Wagstaffe said.

Patel appeared before San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Finigan Monday afternoon and was denied bail because of “potential danger to family members,” according to the Chronicle. Finigan also ordered Patel not to bother his family. The radiologist suffered “serious injuries to his lower body” as a result of the incident and was taken to the San Mateo County Jail.

Although, given the company, there were initial questions about whether the Tesla’s self-driving mode was enabled dangerous track record from accidents with his Autopilot Features, the California Highway Patrol said earlier this month that the car didn’t appear to be the culprit. Prosecutor Wagstaffe said Monday the Tesla was not in self-driving mode during the accident and investigators have not found any problems with the car so far.

A photo from above of the white Tesla crumpled at the base of the cliff.

Witnesses told investigators that the brake lights on Patel’s Tesla were not on when the car suddenly made a sharp right turn and fell off the 250-foot cliff known as Devil’s Slide. The Tesla landed upright on its wheels and all four family members were rescued. However, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter remained seriously injured. Her 4-year-old son, meanwhile, walked away from the accident with only bruises.

Experts were stunned, the family survived, told the New York Times that it was “very unusual for someone to survive an accident of this magnitude in this area”.

Exactly why Patel decided to drive the Tesla off the cliff is still an open question. Wagstaffe said prosecutors are still investigating.

“We are investigating what led to this. Was it depression or something else?” Wagstaffe said, according to the Chronicle. “Not only did he try to kill her, he tried to kill himself.” Man Who Drove Tesla Off Cliff Charged With Attempted Murder

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