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Pasadena Doctor Accused of Intentionally Driving His Family Off Cliff Released From Hospital, Arrested

Published on Monday, January 30, 2023 | 5:46 am

At left: Patel, his wife, Neha, and their children — a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy — miraculously a plunge off an area of Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California known as the “Devil’s Slide.” At right: The Tesla after the fall, with San Mateo County Sheriff’s rescuers. [ Credits: Facebook / Neha Patel and San Marteo Sheriff’s Dept.]
A Pasadena doctor accused of deliberately driving a car with his wife and two children inside off a Northern California cliff on Jan. 2 was arrested and taken into custody on Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse immediately after he was released from hospital, the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office said.

All four miraculously survived the plunge.

The D.A.’s office added the Dr. Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, was being held without bail and could be arraigned Monday afternoon should the District Attorney decide to file criminal charges.

California Highway Patrol authorities earlier said Patel intentionally drove the Tesla off the cliff with his family in the vehicle.

Rescuers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department went down the cliff that Monday and used a helicopter to lift Patel and his wife, Neha, out of the wreckage. The children were pulled out of the back window and brought up the cliff by hand in a rescue basket. They were rushed to the hospital with musculoskeletal injuries, rescuers said.

Throughout the night of the incident, CHP investigators interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence from the scene.

“Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act,” the CHP said afterwards.

An ABC-7 report said authorities weren’t able to determine the Tesla’s driving mode during the crash, but said it does not appear to be a contributing factor in the crash. The report said the car flipped a couple of times before landing on its wheels, wedged against the cliff just steps away from the ocean.

Patel is listed as a doctor at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. The day after the incident, the medical center said: “Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation.”

There was no guardrail at the spot where the sedan went off the cliff, officials said.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told The Los Angeles Times that investigators will be examining all possible causes of the crash, including the possibility of a mechanical problem.

“We’re having the car looked at from top to bottom,” Wagstaffe said.

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