Experts indicated that a combination of pure chance and a well-made vehicle certainly contributed to the remarkable survival of a California doctor and his family after he accidentally drove their Tesla SUV off a 250-foot precipice.
It is “sort of a miracle,” according to Jingwen Yu, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, that Dr. Dharmesh Patel and his family are still alive following Monday’s harrowing fall off the Pacific Coast Highway.
Yu told NBC News, “The driver likely misjudged how safe a vehicle could be, which gave us ‘hope’ for vehicle safety.
Officials think Patel, 41, purposely drove his wife Neha and their two children – a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy – over the cliff’s edge. It is still unknown what driving mode the Tesla was in, including if it had its Autopilot system on.
Yu noted that the vehicle’s integrity remained remarkably intact despite the forceful impact; this achievement may be explained by the vehicle’s sturdy roof.
“The inhabitants still have a safe place to stay. That’s amazing,” he said to NBC News.
You said that the batteries’ contribution to the car’s low center of gravity and assistance in maintaining balance helped shield the family from more harm.
Contrary to what the fire department has said, Jose Granda, a professor of mechanical engineering at California State University in Sacramento, doesn’t think the SUV rolled over before coming to rest on its wheels.
He added that computer models prove it couldn’t have happened and that he doesn’t think the automobile ran into the cliff as it was falling.
According to Granda, the roof would have collapsed and all of the passengers would have perished if the Tesla had turned over as stated.
According to him, the SUV was traveling at rates of up to 80 mph when it crashed, albeit its effect was probably somewhat lessened by the pebble-like rocks and sand beside the river.
The landing zone was compared by the expert to a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit.
He stated, “You have the reason why these guys are alive,” adding that the batteries in the electric car probably prevented the car from leaning forward.
No manufacturer plans for a situation like a fall over a cliff, according to David Zuby, chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who spoke to NBC News.
“Look at this crash test we’re running for additional credit,” an automaker has never stated to me in my 35 years of working on vehicle safety, said Zuby.
He added that the family’s survival was “mainly chance” and that “no car you could go buy today is built to protect the driver when they drive over a cliff like that.”
The family members were all still hospitalized on Thursday, Highway Patrol spokesman Mark Andrew told NBC News, but he would not go into any detail about their health.
Once Patel is discharged from Stanford Hospital, he will be arrested on accusations of attempted murder and child abuse, according to the authorities.
The incident is still being investigated, and there is no indication of a potential motivation.
In a statement, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center expressed its “great sadness” at learning about a traffic accident involving one of our doctors and his family.
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