California doctor charged with attempting to kill family after driving Tesla off cliff blames depression

"He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off." 


On Friday, Doctor Dharmesh Patel, 43, who was charged with purposely driving his family off a cliff at Devils Slide in California, asked the court to allow him to enter into a mental health diversion program to deal with his "major depressive disorder." 

According to the Daily Mail, the state of California's mental health diversion is aimed at preventing those with mental health problems from being incarcerated and allows their charges to be dismissed upon completion. Since Patel is facing felony charges he would have to be in the program for two years. 

In January, Patel was arrested and charged with attempted murder and child abuse after driving his Tesla carrying his wife and two young children off the 250ft California cliff. All four occupants survived the crash.

Dharmesh initially claimed that a tire issue caused him to veer off the road, but his wife Neha told highway patrol at the time, "He's a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off." 

A California Highway Patrol press release said, “Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” but did not go into further detail. 

One eye witness told NBC Bay Area that she saw the vehicle driving toward and exit in the wrong direction. She looked at her rear-view mirror and saw "This car just go over the edge and straight down."

The whole family was treated at Stanford Medical Center. Patel suffered only minor injuries to his legs and foot, while his wife and children suffered more severe but non-life-threatening injuries. 

Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief with the Coastside Fire Protection District told Entrepreneur, "That stretch of road, this is a fairly regular occurrence for us — and, typically, most people succumb their injuries in an accident like this." He said it was a surprise that the family survived. 

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