A 41-year-old man from Pasadena, California, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child endangerment.
Dharmesh A. Patel is accused of driving his wife, 41, and his two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, over the side of a California cliff on Monday.
“[California Highway Patrol] investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene,” the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said. “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act.”
The white four-door Tesla was traveling south on California State Route 1, south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels between Pacifica and Montara, according to CNN. The highway patrol said it was notified of the crash at about 10:50 a.m.
CHP said the car landed about 20 miles south of San Francisco on a rocky beach area known as Devil’s Slide.
In a video shared on Twitter, Brian Pottenger, battalion chief of the Coastside Fire Protection District, detailed the efforts to reach the vehicle. Pottenger also noted rescue workers’ surprise that anyone had survived the crash.
“We were very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle, so that actually was a hopeful moment for us,” said Pottenger.
As firefighters and other first responders made their way down the cliff, other rescue workers looking through binoculars were able to see movement in the front seat of the car through the windshield.
“So we knew that we had at least one person that was alive,” Pottenger reported.
The family was crushed in the car, but all four of the car’s occupants were conscious and alive. Crews first freed the two children, who were still strapped in their car seats, and hoisted them up with a rope. A helicopter came to help rescue the adults.
“This was nothing short of a miracle today that they survived,” Pottenger told KTVU.
Authorities do not believe the Tesla’s driving system was at fault for the accident.
“There has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in; however, that does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident,” the highway patrol relayed.
CHP said that the occupants of the car were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, and the driver will be booked into San Mateo County Jail after being treated.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information was available as of press time.