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Driver in California Cliff Crash Moved From Hospital to Jail

Emergency personnel respond to a vehicle over the side of Highway 1, in San Mateo County, Calif., on Jan. 1, 2023. (Sgt. Brian Moore/San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

MONTARA, Calif.—The driver of a car that plunged 250 feet (76 meters) off a treacherous cliff in northern California, injuring his two young children and his wife, was released from the hospital and jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse, authorities said Friday.

Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, was booked into jail where he was being held without bail and could be arraigned Monday afternoon if the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office decides to file criminal charges, that office said.

The office didn’t indicate when he was released from the hospital.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Patel had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The Pasadena man was seriously injured when the Tesla sedan went over the cliff at Devils Slide, along the Pacific Coast Highway on Jan. 2.

Rescuers initially hailed the family’s survival as a miracle after the sedan plummeted in an area about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of San Francisco that’s known for fatal wrecks.

Firefighters were forced to cut the family, including Patel’s 41-year-old wife, 7-year-old daughter, and 4-year-old son, out of the wreckage.

Patel was later arrested after California Highway Patrol investigators “developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” the agency said.

However, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe this week said that investigators are also examining the Tesla Model Y to rule out the possibility of a mechanical problem.