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Why Indian-American doctor drove car off US cliff with wife and 2 children

Mr. Patel drove his Tesla down a 250-foot chasm in January 2023 while carrying his wife Neha and their two children, ages seven and four.

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Annesha Barua -- June 27th 2024 01:48 PM
Why Indian-American doctor drove car off US cliff with wife and 2 children

Why Indian-American doctor drove car off US cliff with wife and 2 children

PTC News Desk: Indian-American radiologist Dharmesh Patel has escaped jail time and will receive mental health treatment after his doctors informed the court that he experienced a "psychotic breakdown" a year after he drove his wife and two kids off a California cliff and into the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Patel drove his Tesla down a 250-foot chasm in January 2023 while carrying his wife Neha and their two children, ages seven and four. The car sustained significant damage, but the family only suffered minor injuries. His spouse informed the rescuers that he was mentally ill when he purposefully drove the car off the cliff.


What made him swerve his car off a precipice?

Attorneys for Mr. Patel told the court on Thursday that his acts were completely driven by his mental illness, which included delusions and paranoia.

According to the radiologist's evaluation team, his mental state had been declining for weeks before to the horrifying collision. The surgeon told the court he was worried someone was following him because he had heard footsteps.

In addition, he thought there was a chance his kids would be abducted, molested, or trafficked.

After entering a not guilty plea to three counts of attempted murder, Mr. Patel has since been diagnosed with severe depressive disorder and schizoaffective disorder. A psychologist testified in court that the man's actions at the time were motivated by paranoia and delusional thinking to shield his family from a worse fate.

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What takes place after that? 

A US judge determined that the radiologist qualified for "mental health diversion," a legal provision that spares an accused person with a mental illness from going to jail or prison if the disease was a significant contributing factor to the offense.

Based on the diagnoses provided by his doctors, Superior Court Judge Susan M. Jakubowski decided that Mr. Patel qualified for the diversion and mandated his release to his parents in California. He will submit a weekly report to the court and be under GPS monitoring. In addition, he has to give up his passport and driver's license and is not permitted to leave the country.

He will now be put on a two-year treatment plan, and if he doesn't break any laws while receiving treatment, the accusations against him will be withdrawn.

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- With inputs from agencies

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