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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Man who drove family off cliff is charged with attempted murder, authorities say

A photo provided by San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office shows the scene of a crash off Highway 1 near San Francisco, on Jan 2, 2022.


A man who authorities say deliberately drove his family off a cliff in Northern California this month was charged earlier this week with three counts of attempted murder, court records show.

The man, Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, was arrested after the crash on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse after his Tesla careened more than 250 feet off a treacherous cliff with him, his wife and two children inside, authorities said.

Remarkably, all four survived with non-life-threatening injuries after emergency workers rescued them from the rubble. But as details emerged from witnesses and from evidence gathered at the crash site, authorities said, it quickly became clear that the crash had been no accident. Patel, they said, had intentionally steered the car from the rocky bluff and would be taken to San Mateo County Jail after being released from the hospital.

Patel was to be arraigned Monday on the attempted murder charges, a spokesperson from the San Mateo County Court said. He is also accused of causing great bodily harm and committing domestic violence against his wife and 7-year-old daughter, state court records show.

Efforts Monday to reach Patel’s lawyer were not immediately successful.

The crash, on Jan. 2, left emergency responders stunned that the family had survived after they extracted Patel, his wife and two children from their mangled white Tesla.

The car had careened off a stretch of Highway 1, about 20 miles southwest of San Francisco, and smashed into the rocks abutting the Pacific Ocean, authorities said at the time. The area is often referred to as Devil’s Slide. Luckily, the car landed upright on its wheels, authorities said, making the passengers easier to reach through the side windows.

It was very unusual, they said, for anyone to survive a crash of such magnitude.

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