SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — A man accused of trying to kill his family by driving a Tesla over a cliff with them inside has been charged with attempted murder by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. Here’s what we know about him so far.
Dharmesh Patel, 41, is a medical doctor based in Pasadena. He and his wife have two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. On Jan. 2, the family was in the Tesla Model Y traveling on Highway 1 near Devil’s Slide when it went over the cliff and plunged more than 250 feet down to the water’s edge.
All four family members survived after emergency crews repelled down to the crash site to cut them from the car. Patel was arrested as he was treated for his injuries at Stanford Hospital, and he was later booked into San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder. He is being held without bail.
Patel is a radiologist
Patel is a radiologist who has held licenses to treat patients in Florida, Oregon and California, according to the Oregon Medical Board. He graduated from Wayne State University in 2008, and his medical license in California is active.
After graduation, Patel interned in San Francisco before heading to Miami to complete his residency. Then he completed a fellowship at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to board records.
Most recently Patel worked with the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills neighborhood north of Los Angeles. Patel had “privileges to work” at the medical center, but he was not employed full-time by the company, a spokesperson confirmed to KRON4.
Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of the traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no severe injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation.Statement provided by Providence Holy Cross
His injuries and those of the wife and children
Initial reports from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office the day of the crash listed all victims as in critical condition. Patel’s wife is still being treated for her injuries from the crash. Both of the couple’s children have been released from the hospital and are now with family, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Patel’s alleged attempt to kill his family resulted in injuries for him as well. The injuries were severe, but authorities chose to arrest Patel while he was still being treated at Stanford Hospital. He was not moved to San Mateo County Jail until more than two weeks after the crash. A booking photo obtained by KRON4 shows Patel’s left eye is still visibly swollen and discolored.
Updates on charges
On Monday, charges were filed against Patel for attempted murder and child abuse, with enhancements for domestic abuse and great bodily injury. He could face seven years to life in prison for each of the three counts of attempted murder.
When speaking with media on Monday, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe confirmed that a key reason the charges have been brought against Patel is statements his wife made after the crash. Wagstaffe told The LA Times that Patel’s wife told emergency response crews, “He intentionally tried to kill us.”
“She said very simply this was not an accident,” Wagstaffe said.
Investigators have not spoken to Patel’s wife, as she is still being treated for injuries from the crash. After reviewing video from the crash which showed the Tesla veering off the roadway, the DA’s Office moved forward with charges without his wife’s formal statement. Patel is due back in court on Feb. 9.
The Tesla Model Y
After the crash, the Tesla was crushed on all sides, but “By some miracle that I don’t understand, all of them have survived,” Wagstaffe said on Monday. Initial reports questioned if the Tesla auto-pilot feature was activated during the time of the crash, but investigators have not confirmed if it was involved.
Wagstaffe has said that investigators are also exploring the possibility of some sort of mechanical failure on the Tesla. “We’re having the car looked at from top to bottom,” Wagstaffe told The LA Times.