‘He tried to kill us’ – murder suspect’s wife
California doctor accused of trying to kill himself, his wife and two kids, four and seven, is facing first degree attempted murder and child abuse charges
Neha Patel, 41, told paramedics as they rescued her and her two children from a car wreck after her doctor husband allegedly, deliberately drove them off a cliff
Dharmesh A. Patel, 42, of Pasadena, who sustained the most serious injuries has been transferred to jail after three weeks in hospital
He is accused of intentionally driving his wife and kids off a cliff in his Tesla off a sheer 250ft cliff
His wife, who is still in hospital, told paramedics her husband acted deliberately
His arraignment scheduled for Monday is delayed until February 9, at the instance of his attorneys
He is held without bail and has been ordered to stay away from his family
The wife of a Pasadena radiologist charged with the attempted murder of his family told paramedics who rescued them that her husband intentionally drove his car off a 250ft cliff, with his wife and two young kids in the vehicle.
Dr. Dharmesh A. Patel, 42, was booked into San Mateo County’s Maguire Correctional Facility in California and is facing first degree attempted murder and child abuse charges.
Patel’s wife, Neha, 41, who remains hospitalized, told paramedics: ‘He intentionally tried to kill us’ after they rappelled down the sheer cliff face to rescue the family, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
‘She said very simply this was not an accident. We do believe the evidence establishes the necessary intent to kill,’ Wagstaffe told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Patel’s transfer to jail comes after he spent three weeks in hospital, having been seriously injured in the crash.
He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday but his lawyer asked for a delay until February 9, which the judge granted. The judge also granted the prosecution’s request for no bail and ordered that Patel stay away from his family.
Patel is accused of intentionally driving his white Tesla Model Y off a cliff known as Devil’s Slide near San Francisco on Monday Jan 2, during a trip north.
Miraculously, all four members of the family survived. Patel sustained the most serious injuries. His wife Neha sustained less serious injuries. Their two children aged four and seven, also survived with relatively minor injuries.
Earlier speculation that the Tesla may have been in self-driving mode was also ruled out. Although Patel has been accused of attempted murder, last week prosecutors were seeking to rule out the possibility the car’s brakes had malfunctioned: ‘Did the brakes fail? Were the brakes working? Were there any other mechanical malfunctions that would have led to him not being able to stop the vehicle?’ DA Wagstaffe said to the LA Times.
‘We’re having the car looked at from top to bottom’.
The DA’s office was still in the early stages of the investigation, he added.
Patel was arrested after California Highway Patrol investigators ‘developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,’ the agency said.
The prosecutor’s office was still trying to determine why Patel drove off the cliff. Patel has not spoken to investigators since the January 2 crash, the DA said.
‘We’re looking into what led up to this. Was there depression or anything else?’ Wagstaffe said.
‘It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them, he was trying to kill himself too.’
Sheriff’s deputies worked to free the car after the family was airlifted to safety.
Patel works as a radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Pasadena.
He has since been transferred to San Mateo Medical Center, Wagstaffe said, but he was not to be formally booked until he finished receiving treatment.
Troopers were dispatched at around 10am on January 2 to reports that a vehicle had veered off the cliff on Highway 1, around 20 miles south of San Francisco. The steep, rocky, winding coastal area is known as Devil’s Slide.
Fire Chief Brian Pottenger told reporters: ‘We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle.’
How the vehicle came to rest on four wheels remains a mystery. The car was initially thought to have flipped multiple times. However, experts have since raised doubts, arguing the heavy batteries located in the floor of the Tesla would have stopped it from rolling.
There was no guardrail at the spot where the sedan went off the cliff, officials said.
Patel was seen driving at speed northbound on Highway 1 and he is speculated to have performed a sharp turn before reaching the Tom Lantos Tunnel, which is where the Tesla veered off the road, first onto a dirt area and then down the cliff.
Robin Johnson, who called 911 after seeing the crash, recalled: ‘Wow, he’s driving extremely fast to take that exit. You’re not even supposed to be going up that way.
‘And I can see in my rear-view mirror this car just go over the edge and straight down.’
The huge drop from the highway to the scene of the crash, prompted the convergence of nearly 50 rescuers at the scene, where it was initially assumed that anyone in the car must have died.
A helicopter and specialist teams were required to rappel down the cliff to the car. It was not until hours later that rescue teams discovered the four family members conscious and alert in the car.
The family members were airlifted to safety after rescue teams abseiled down the side of the cliff while others used helicopters to try to reach the family
The children were pulled out first, through a back window, and hauled up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket strapped to a pulley system.
The doctor and his wife were more seriously injured and had to be hoisted out by helicopter and were then flown directly to hospital.
According to an online profile, Patel graduated from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan and has been practicing for more than a decade.
His employers released a statement after the crash: ‘Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family,’ it said.
‘We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation.’