California doctor who ‘tried to kill wife and children by driving off cliff’ is seen in mugshot
A photo of a California doctor accused of trying to kill his wife and children who slid off a 250-foot cliff was released a day after he first appeared in court.
Dharmesh Patel, 42, was admitted to the San Mateo County Maguire Correctional Facility and faces charges of attempted murder in the first degree and child abuse.
He looked disheveled in a red shirt with a bloodied eye in a new picture from jail, where he is being held without bail.
Prosecutors allege that Patel deliberately knocked his Tesla off the death cliff of Devil’s Side in California, and his wife allegedly told the paramedics, “He tried to kill us.”
Dharmesh Patel, 42, was incarcerated at Maguire Correctional Facility in San Mateo County on charges of attempted murder in the first degree and child abuse.
His wife allegedly told the paramedics that he deliberately drove their car off a cliff in California with his entire family inside.
Patel, who works as a radiographer at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Pasadena, was transferred Monday to San Mateo Prison after spending three weeks in a local hospital after suffering serious injuries in an accident.
He is accused of deliberately knocking his white Tesla Model Y off a cliff known as Devil’s Hill near San Francisco on Monday while driving north.
The prosecutor’s office refers to the comments of his wife, who remains in the hospital. She allegedly told the paramedics that “he deliberately tried to kill us” after they climbed down a steep cliff to save the family.
“She said very simply that it was not an accident. We believe the evidence supports intent to kill,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Patel was arrested after California Highway Patrol investigators “came to believe that the incident was a deliberate act,” the agency said.
But Wagstaffe said his office is still trying to determine why Patel drove off the cliff, noting that Patel hasn’t spoken to investigators since the Jan. 2 crash.
“We are investigating what led to this. Was it depression or something else? Wagstaffe said. “It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them, he was trying to kill himself.”
Last week, the prosecutor’s office tried to rule out the possibility of a malfunction of the car’s brakes.
Suggestions that Tesla might have been in autonomous driving mode have also been ruled out.
“Brakes failed? Did the brakes work? Were there any other mechanical problems that would have prevented him from stopping the car? Wagstaff told the LA Times. “We inspect the car from top to bottom.”
However, he noted that the district attorney’s office is still in the early stages of an investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies are trying to free the car after the family was airlifted to safety on January 2.
The Tesla wreckage is depicted at the foot of the cliff.
The car was driving north on Highway 1 near San Francisco around 10 a.m. Monday, January 2, when it crashed down the Devil’s Side cliff side.
At about 10 a.m. on January 2, the military was sent to report that the car had swerved off a cliff on Highway 1, about 20 miles south of San Francisco. The steep, rocky, winding coastal area is known as Devil’s Hill.
Fire Chief Brian Pottenger told reporters: “We go there all the time to get cars off the cliff and they never live. It was a real miracle.”
Initially, it was reported that the car rolled over several times. However, experts have since expressed doubts, arguing that the heavy batteries located in the floor of the Tesla would have kept it from rolling.
There was no guard rail at the spot where the sedan fell off the cliff, officials said.
Patel was seen speeding north on Highway 1 and is believed to have made a sharp turn before reaching the Tom Lantos Tunnel, where the Tesla veered off the road, first into a muddy patch and then down a cliff.
Robin Johnson, who called 911 after seeing the crash, recalled: “Wow, he’s going really fast to swerve. You don’t even have to go up this road.
“And I see in the rearview mirror this car just goes over the edge and straight down.”
A huge descent from the highway to the crash site. Family members were airlifted to safety
Rescuers had to rappel down the cliff while others used helicopters to reach the family.
From 30 to 50 rescuers arrived at the scene, where it was initially assumed that someone in the car was supposed to die.
It took a helicopter and a team of specialists to get down from the cliff to the car. Only a few hours later, rescuers found four family members conscious and alert in the car.
The children were pulled out first through the rear window and manually lifted onto the rock in a rescue basket using a pulley.
The doctor and his wife were more seriously injured and had to be pulled out by helicopter and then taken directly to the hospital.
Neighbors expressed their shock at the allegations against Patel, calling their family “an idyll”.
Roger Newmark, who lives a stone’s throw from family on Pasadena’s green street, told CBS: “They’re the sweetest couple and they have two wonderful little kids.”
The hospital where Patel works as a radiographer also released a statement after the accident.
“Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic accident involving one of our doctors and his family,” it said in a statement.
“We are very grateful that there were no serious injuries. We will no longer respond as this incident is under investigation.”
According to an online profile, Patel graduated from Wayne State University in Michigan School of Medicine and has been in practice for over a decade.
He was supposed to be charged on Monday, but his lawyer asked for a delay until February 9, which the judge granted.