Dharmesh Patel: California doctor claims mechanical glitch caused car to go off cliff but wife says he 'purposely drove off'
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA: Doctor Dharmesh Patel, who is accused of intentionally driving his family off a cliff in California, claimed that the Tesla he was driving had mechanical problems. Patel's wife Neha Patel and other witnesses, however, believe that it was an intentional act.
Documents that were released on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, revealed that Patel, 41, told investigators that on January 2 when he was driving his wife and two children on the Pacific Coast Highway, a sensor on his Model Y electric car showed that it had low tire pressure, according to New York Post. Patel claimed he was trying to stop to examine the tires when the car sped off down the cliff overlooking the ocean. His wife Neha denied those assertions and told the rescuers, "He's depressed. He's a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off," according to court documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.
'I can fix him!': California doctor Dharmesh Patel's wife Neha urges officials not to prosecute him after he drove family off cliff
Dharmesh Patel: Doc accused of driving Tesla off cliff with 'intent to kill' wife and two children pleads not guilty
What did Neha Patel say about Dharmesh Patel?
Officer Aaron Sapien of the California Highway Patrol noted in a three-page probable cause report that Neha told an emergency worker, "Something to the effect that the driver, her husband Dharmesh Patel, did it on purpose... She then told him that her husband needs a psych evaluation," according to New York Post.
Patel informed the authorities that his family and he were traveling to Montara, a beach town where his brother resided. He said that he made three stops for gas as a result of the Tesla's dashboard sensors repeatedly warning him that the tire pressure was low and added that the car "began to feel different" on PCH.
Sapien stated in the affidavit, "Patel then moved the Tesla to a 'dirt path' to check the tire air pressure. Patel related that it was a short distance before they fell down the cliff," according to New York Post. Patel claimed that his wife had been "irritated" just before the crash because she didn't want to visit his brother's home before heading back to their Pasadena home.
'He just felt down because times were bad in the world'
Sapien wrote, "When asked if he felt depressed, he related he was not really depressed, he just felt down because times were bad in the world [with] the war and the drugs. When asked if he felt suicidal, he stated, 'You know, not like a plan, not usually' and related they he was more worried about the world," according to New York Post.
Witnesses claimed that the Tesla did not appear to be slowing down before it fell off the cliff, and the police report makes no mention of any faults. Sapien wrote, "The tire marks are consistent with a vehicle making a gradual right turn," according to New York Post.
Sapien added, "The marks continued up the inclined dirt/sand road and end at the apex of the embankment." The surveillance footage that the police also collected supported the witnesses' accounts. Steve Wagstaffe, the district attorney for San Mateo, claimed in January that the Tesla was not in self-driving mode when it crashed into the rugged seaside bluff.
Where is Dharmesh Patel being held in prison?
Patel had already been taken into prison for the crash before he left Stanford Medical Center, where he and the rest of his family were receiving care for their injuries, according to KRON 4. Patel was booked into the San Mateo County Jail.
Patel pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder as well as two enhancements for the serious injuries his wife and daughter, 7, suffered in a Redwood City courtroom in February. He will return to court at 9 am on June 12.