While investigators have noted that the Tesla involved in the harrowing but miraculous crash at Devil’s Slide earlier this month is being probed for potential issues that may have caused the accident, a statement from one of the survivors, comments from motorists in the area, and footage from a nearby tunnel have pinned the incident on the vehicle’s driver.
During the incident, a Tesla Model Y with a family of four — Radiologist Dharmesh Patel, his wife, Neha, and their two children — drove off Devil’s Slide in California. The all-electric vehicle dropped 250 feet before landing on its wheels on a dry portion of the beach. Rescuers who responded to the incident dubbed the survival of all the vehicle’s occupants a “miracle” since other motorists who fell in the same area were not as lucky to escape with their lives.
As noted in a San Francisco Chronicle report, statements from the Model Y driver’s wife, comments from motorists driving in the area where the incident happened, and videos from the Tom Lantos Tunnel nearby have suggested that the incident was intentional. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe noted that three counts of attempted murder charges had been filed against Patel. Charging documents included enhancements for domestic violence and actions that caused great bodily injuries.
“We do believe the evidence establishes the necessary intent to kill,” Wagstaffe said.
The District Attorney noted that after Neha was hoisted by helicopter from the site of the crash, she talked with paramedics and provided incriminating statements about her husband. Motorists who were in the area when the incident happened also informed investigators that they observed no brake lights on the Tesla when it made a hard right and plunged off the cliff.
Wagstaffe, for his part, stated that his office is currently investigating the potential reasons behind the radiologist’s actions. “We’re looking into what led up to this. Was there depression or anything else? It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them. He was trying to kill himself too,” the District Attorney said.
While the investigation into the incident is ongoing, Wagstaffe noted that the Tesla Model Y was not in self-driving mode at the time of the incident. No videos, however, have been recovered from the vehicle. All four occupants were also belted in when the Tesla drove off the cliff.
Dharmesh Patel appeared in court on Monday afternoon, and his attorney, Josh Bentley, asked for a delay until February 9. Judge Jeffrey Finigan granted Patel’s request, but he also granted the prosecution’s request that the Model Y driver not be offered bail to avoid “potential danger to family members.”
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