Wife Pleads for Husband's Release in Tesla Cliff Crash Case

Dr. Dharmesh Patel, a California radiologist, faces three counts of attempted murder for driving his Tesla off a 250-foot cliff with his family inside. His wife, Neha Patel, is pleading for his release into a mental health diversion program, citing his mental health episode and the family's need for him.

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Salman Khan
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Wife Pleads for Husband's Release in Tesla Cliff Crash Case

Wife Pleads for Husband's Release in Tesla Cliff Crash Case

Neha Patel, the wife of Dr. Dharmesh Patel, a California radiologist accused of deliberately driving his Tesla off a 250-foot cliff with his family inside, has made an emotional plea to the court to drop the charges against her husband. Dr. Patel, 42, faces three counts of attempted murder for the January 2, 2023 incident that miraculously saw all four family members, including the couple's two young children, survive the crash.

Why this matters: This case raises questions about the criminal justice system's approach to mental health and whether it adequately addresses the complexities of mental illness. It also highlights the need for greater understanding and support for individuals and families affected by mental health conditions.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the incident, Neha Patel, 41, attributed her husband's actions to a mental health episode "beyond any of our understanding and control." She requested that Dr. Patel be released from jail and sent home under a mental health diversion program. "We need him in our life. We're not a family without him," wife told the court, describing the impact of her husband's absence on their children, now aged 5 and 9.

The harrowing incident occurred on the Pacific Coast Highway south of San Francisco, with Dr. Patel's white Tesla Model Y plunging several hundred feet off the cliff at Devil's Slide. While all four occupants survived, Neha Patel and the couple's then-7-year-old daughter suffered severe injuries. Their then-4-year-old son was treated for minor injuries, and Dr. Patel sustained serious lower body injuries.

In court, Mrs. In court, Mrs. Patel portrayed a devoted husband and father, describing Dr. Patel as a "kind and altruistic" man who has been her best friend for over 25 years. Patel as a"kind and altruistic"man who has been her best friend for over 25 years. She expressed herfamily'sheartbreak at each birthday and holiday without their father, recounting how her young son has asked,"When's Daddy coming home? He's taking so long and I miss him."

Dr. Patel's defense team argues that their client's actions were the result of a psychotic episode brought on by major depressive disorder. A psychologist testified that in the days leading up to the crash, Dr. Patel grew increasingly delusional, believing his children were at risk of being kidnapped and molested. These delusions were allegedly fueled by anxieties surrounding the nation's fentanyl crisis and the war in Ukraine.

The defense seeks to have Dr. Patel qualify for a two-year mental health diversion program, which would see his criminal charges dismissed and arrest record destroyed upon successful completion. However, San Mateo County prosecutors have filed motions opposing the request, arguing that the nature of Dr. Patel's diagnosed schizoaffective disorder makes the treatment program ineffective and expressing concerns about the lack of oversight in the diversion program.

Trial proceedings are ongoing, with closing arguments scheduled for May 10, the wife and family's future hangs in the balance. If convicted, Dr. Patel could face a life sentence in prison. Neha Patel believes her husband receiving the mental health treatment he desperately needs is essential to rebuilding their family. "Now that we understand and know he has a treatable condition, things will be different,"sheassuredthe court.

Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Dharmesh Patel accused of driving Tesla off 250-foot cliff with family inside.
  • Wife Neha Patel attributes actions to mental health episode, requests charges be dropped.
  • Defense argues Patel's actions resulted from psychotic episode due to major depressive disorder.
  • Prosecutors oppose mental health diversion program, citing concerns about oversight.
  • If convicted, Dr. Patel could face life sentence; wife seeks treatment for rebuilding family.