Dad who drove his family off a cliff had a psychotic break

REDWOOD CITY, CA – A psychiatrist and psychologist presented testimony on Wednesday concerning Dharmesh Patel, the California doctor facing charges of attempted murder after driving his family over a cliff in a Tesla. According to the professionals, major depressive disorder and psychological hallucinations were factors in the 2023 incident.

The Pasadena-based radiologist, 43, was convinced at the time that his children were victims of sex trafficking. Reportingly, his delusions were tied to concerns about notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, relayed psychologist Mark Patterson.

The hearing was convened in response to Patel’s petition for a mental health diversion rather than serving prison time. If the request is approved, Patel will engage in a two-year treatment schedule, and his existing charges will potentially be dropped.

Stanford psychiatric clinician James Armontrout, slated to supervise the proposed treatment, outlined comprehensive outpatient care featuring group and individual therapy sessions overseen by a psychotherapist. Patterson confirmed Patel’s strong potential for the program, citing his high motivation for treatment and progress since the crash.

Patel is currently faced with three counts of attempted murder subsequent to the January 2023 crash in which he deliberately drove his vehicle off a 250-foot cliff, resulting in the whole family hitting the Pacific Ocean’s shore but surviving. Patel has entered a not-guilty plea, attributing the crash to tire issues on his Tesla Model Y.

Contradicting Patel’s account, his wife, Neha, informed investigators that Patel had suicidal tendencies and had cited his intent to drive off the cliff. Further evidence shows that the vehicle was not in self-driving mode and did not display mechanical issues.

Prosecutors have called into question the diagnosis, suggesting Patel suffers from a different disorder known as schizoaffective. They’ve also highlighted the difficulty in monitoring Patel’s adherence to medication outside court supervision.

Patel continues to be held without bail at San Mateo County Jail.