California Doctor Drove Tesla Off Cliff Due to Psychotic Episode, Experts Say

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California Doctor Drove Tesla Off Cliff Due to Psychotic Episode, Experts Say

Dharmesh Patel, a 47-year-old radiologist from Pasadena, California, is accused of intentionally driving his Tesla off a 250-foot cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway with his wife and two young children inside. 

According to newly unsealed court documents, Patel’s wife, Neha, told emergency responders multiple times that her husband had driven off the cliff “on purpose” and was “trying to kill them all.” 

However, Patel’s defense team argued that at the time of the incident, he was suffering from a psychotic episode brought on by a major depressive disorder. 

Doctors Mark Patterson and James Armontrout testified that Patel held a delusional belief that his children were in danger of being sex trafficked, which led him to act impulsively and drive off the cliff.  The Tesla plunged several hundred feet down the cliff, but miraculously, all four family members survived the crash. The children, aged 4 and 7, sustained relatively minor injuries. 

Patel is currently facing three counts of attempted murder. His defense is seeking mental health diversion, which would allow him to undergo a two-year treatment plan instead of jail time, provided he avoids reoffending and complies with the court’s conditions. The prosecution, however, opposes this option, arguing that Patel’s condition may not be adequately addressed by the proposed treatment plan. 

The case is ongoing, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 12. 

This incident highlights the importance of mental health awareness and the need for comprehensive treatment options for individuals experiencing psychotic episodes. Despite the harrowing circumstances, the family’s survival underscores the safety features of Tesla vehicles that may have contributed to their miraculous escape.