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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

California doctor intentionally drove Tesla off cliff with family inside

Firefighters had to cut the family out of the wreckage.

A California doctor, accused of driving his family off a cliff, has blamed his Tesla car for malfunctioning even though his wife claimed his move was deliberate, according to an affidavit.

Warrant affidavit documents unsealed on Wednesday showed Dharmesh Patel, 41, told investigators he pulled off the road to check on a possible flat tyre after the sensor on his Model Y electric car indicated low tyre pressure.

Mr Patel, a radiologist from Pasadena, was driving his white 2021 Tesla Model Y along the Pacific Coast Highway south of San Francisco when the car plunged several hundred feet off the cliff at the Devil’s Slide.

Firefighters had to cut the family out of the wreckage.

Despite the crash, Mr Patel, his wife Neha, their nine-year-old son and four-year-old daughter “miraculously” survived and were pulled off a craggy outcrop.

However, Mr Patel’s claims were refuted by his wife, who told a California Highway Patrol officer that her husband was "depressed".

"He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off," Ms Patel said, according to documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

California Highway Patrol officer Aaron Sapien wrote that Ms Patel, while being rescued from the car, said “something to the effect that the driver, her husband Dharmesh Patel, did it on purpose".

"She then told him that her husband needs a psych evaluation."

He said his wife was irritated shortly before the plunge off the cliff because she didn't want to stop at his brother's house in San Mateo County before making their drive home to Los Angeles.

He said he was not really depressed but that he “felt down because times were bad in the world”, the Chronicle reported.

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

Mr Patel has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder and is in custody without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 12 June, at which time a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to move ahead with a trial.



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