‘Depressed’ California doctor ‘purposely drove’ family off cliff in Tesla: affidavit


Dharmesh A. Patel, the radiologist who was accused of intentionally driving his family off a cliff, was “depressed” when he “purposefully drove off” the Tesla, according to a newly unsealed affidavit.

The incident took place on Jan. 2 at Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County, California, where the Tesla plunged more than 250 feet down the cliff.

All four passengers — Dharmesh, 42, his wife Neha, 41, their 7-year-old daughter and their 4-year-old son — survived the crash with musculoskeletal and traumatic injuries.

“He drove off. He’s depressed. He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off,” Neha reportedly told investigators, according to the affidavit obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

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At the rescue scene, which took several hours amid heavy winds and rain, Neha immediately told paramedics, “He intentionally tried to kill us.”

Dharmesh was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and child endangerment after the incident.

He was previously charged with three counts of attempted murder, with two of the counts having domestic violence and great bodily harm enhancements. Dharmesh pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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According to the affidavit, he claimed that he was trying to pull off the road to inspect a flat tire. The warrant affidavit also includes an interview with Dharmesh where he said he was not depressed, but he “felt down” because “times were bad in the world.” He claimed that Neha was irritated because she did want to visit his brother’s house in San Mateo County before driving back home to Los Angeles.

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

According to officials, two witnesses driving behind the Tesla before the crash said that they did not see the driver attempt to brake. There were also no signs of braking or skid marks on the road.

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Dharmesh is currently in custody without bail. During the preliminary hearing scheduled on June 12, a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to begin a trial.

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