Wife said California doctor “purposely drove off” cliff with family, court documents show

Court documents, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, provide the clearest picture of what authorities believe happened before a Tesla plummeted over 250 feet off a San Mateo highway in January.

Dharmesh Patel, a radiologist, was behind the wheel of the vehicle when it went over the side of a coastal road at a spot known as the Devil’s Slide, according to the California Highway Patrol.


His wife and two children, ages 7 and 4, were also in the Tesla.


Patel’s wife, Neha, told rescuers, according to the Chronicle: “He’s depressed. He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off.”

First responders had to rappel down the cliff and cut the family out of the wreckage. All four survived in what one official called an “absolute miracle.”

Patel, 41, pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder and is in custody without bail.


A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 12, at which time a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to move ahead with a trial.


Patel told investigators he pulled off the road to check on a possibly flat tire, according to a warrant. Witness testimony do not appear to back up his account. Several witnesses say that the Tesla did not slow down or brake, according to a search warrant obtained by the Chronicle.


The court documents also include an interview with Patel while he was recovering from serious injuries, reports the newspaper.


In the interview, he said his wife was irritated shortly before the plunge off the cliff because she didn’t want to stop at his brother’s house before making their drive home to the Los Angeles area.


He said he was not really depressed but that he felt down because times were bad in the world, according to the affidavit.


“Asked if he felt suicidal, he said, ‘You know, not like a plan, not usually,'” the affidavit said.

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