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Father ordered to stand trial on allegation of intentionally driving twin 2-year-old girls off Sunset Cliffs

Robert Brians is accused of intentionally driving a pickup off Sunset Cliffs with his twin 2-year-old daughters inside.
Robert Brians is accused of intentionally driving a pickup off Sunset Cliffs into the ocean with his twin 2-year-old daughters inside in June 2020.
(File / Jim Grant)

Robert Brians, 48, reportedly made a Facebook post that read, ‘Tonight, I’m sending my babies to Heaven.’

A man accused of intentionally driving a pickup off Sunset Cliffs into the ocean with his twin 2-year-old daughters inside was ordered this week to stand trial on charges that include attempted murder.

Robert Brians, 48, is accused of abducting the girls from his parents’ home on June 13, 2020, and speeding off a cliff into the water below.

About 4:30 a.m. that day, the girls’ mother called 911 to report that Brians had taken their children without permission.

At Brians’ preliminary hearing Dec. 2 in San Diego County Superior Court, she testified that after Brians took the children, she exchanged several text messages with him as she tried to determine their whereabouts.

She testified that Brians repeatedly sent messages indicating he was planning to drive off a cliff in his truck while the girls were inside.

One message he sent her read, “The girls are going to Heaven and I’m going to Hell to wait for you.”

San Diego police Detective Aletha Lennier testified that three minutes before driving off the cliff, Brians made a Facebook post that read in part, “Tonight, I’m sending my babies to Heaven.”

Though Brians’ wife initially believed he was planning to drive off the Coronado Bridge, police were able to locate him in the Sunset Cliffs area by tracking his cellphone, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.

San Diego police Lt. David Bautista testified that he saw the truck around 5 a.m. on Hill Street near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, where the truck sped off westbound and careened over the side of the cliff, landing upside down in the water.

San Diego police K-9 Officer Jonathan Wiese, who rappelled down the cliff using a 100-foot dog leash, testified that he found Brians floating in the water and holding both girls in his arms.

One of the girls was crying and holding onto Brians’ neck, while the other was limp and seemingly lifeless, according to Wiese. He also testified that Brians was making angry statements about the girls’ mother and an ex-wife.

The officer said he helped propel Brians to shore by swimming behind him and pushing him through the water.

Wiese’s rescue efforts earned him a National Carnegie Medal, which recognizes acts of heroism, and the declaration of a “Jonathan Wiese Day” in the city of San Diego.

Brians and the girls were hospitalized. Lennier testified that both girls suffered injuries including abrasions and lacerations, though one of the girls was much more seriously hurt, suffering a brain bleed and compression fractures to her vertebrae.

Brians was charged in a 13-count criminal complaint with attempted murder, kidnapping, child abuse, making criminal threats, child abduction and burglary. He pleaded not guilty June 22, 2020.

Brians remains held without bail and is due back in court Thursday, Dec. 16.

— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.


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