The wife of a Pasadena radiologist accused her husband of intentionally trying to kill his family by driving their Tesla off a cliff along Highway 1 in San Mateo County, according to a newly unsealed search warrant affidavit.
Dharmesh Patel, 41, his wife and their children, aged 4 and 7, were heading south on Highway 1 on Jan. 2 when their car plunged over the side of a cliff and fell more than 250 feet.
The Patel family had to be extricated from the vehicle by emergency services. Court documents say that while aboard a rescue helicopter, Patel’s wife told officers, “He drove off. He’s depressed. He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off.”
San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe told KTLA sister station KRON4 that multiple people heard her statements, “There were multiple emergency people there who heard the statements as well as the CHP officer.”
Court documents show that Patel told a different story. He said he moved the Tesla to the dirt path to check the tire air pressure.
According to the affidavit, Patel said he was “not really depressed” and just “felt down” because “times were bad in the world.” Asked if he felt suicidal, Patel said, “You know, not like a plan, not usually.”
Three witnesses said the Tesla didn’t slow down as it traveled up the dirt road and then off of the cliff. One witness said she didn’t see the car brake after it made a right turn and went up a dirt road off of the highway.
Patel was arrested for the crash before he was even released from Stanford Medical Center, where he and the rest of his family were treated for their injuries. Patel was booked into San Mateo County Jail. His wife and children all recovered and were released from the hospital within a month of the crash.
Neighbors who lived near the Patels in Pasadena spoke to People, saying they were “stunned” by the charges.
“They were just a great all-around American family that goes out jogging and walks the kids,” neighbor Roger Newmark told People. “They’re just a very sweet family.”
Family says the couple met as freshman at the University of California, San Diego, married in 2008 and started a family.
Patel has been charged with three counts of attempted murder with enhancements for the injuries he caused to his wife and daughter. He has filed a not guilty plea with the court. He’s currently being held without bail.
Patel is scheduled to be in court for a preliminary hearing on June 12. Patel’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.