Wife, Husband Have Different Stories on Cliff Plunge

He says he pulled over to check Tesla's tire pressure, she says he tried to kill self and family
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2023 1:50 PM CDT
Wife, Husband Have Different Stories on Cliff Plunge
This undated photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows Dharmesh Patel.   (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

A California radiologist and his wife gave police very different accounts of why the family's Tesla plunged off a cliff in northern California on Jan. 2. According to newly unsealed documents, Neha Patel repeatedly told police and paramedics that Dharmesh Patel drove off the cliff because he was depressed and was trying to kill the family, including their two children, ages 4 and 7, NBC reports. "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 Patel told a California Highway Patrol officer. She also told paramedics who pulled the family from the wrecked vehicle that her husband "had driven off the side of the road on purpose" and needed a "psych evaluation."

When he was interviewed in the hospital, however, Dharmesh Patel, claimed that he pulled off to a "dirt path" to check the Model Y's tire air pressure after receiving alerts and it was "a short distance before they fell off," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "When asked if he felt depressed, he related he was not really depressed, he just felt down because times were bad in the world, the war, and the drugs," CHP officer Aaron Sapien wrote in a search warrant affidavit. “When asked if he felt suicidal, he stated, ‘you know, not like a plan, not usually’ and related that he was more worried about the world." Witnesses contradicted Dharmesh Patel's version of events, saying they didn't see the vehicle brake or make any effort to slow down as it approached the cliff.

The vehicle fell 330 feet and rescuers were amazed that all four family members survived. According to court documents, Neha Patel spent more than a month in the hospital. Her daughter had a broken hand and her son had injuries to the back of his head. Dharmesh Patel pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder. In February, his attorney told a judge that his wife did not want him to be prosecuted. It's not clear whether she will testify at a preliminary hearing next month. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says she has not recanted her statements. (More attempted murder stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.