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Tesla crash: Indian-American blames car for plunging off cliff; wife denies

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 19, 2023 05:04 PM

NEW YORK: An Indian-American doctor denied that he intentionally drove his family off a cliff in California saying that the Tesla car he was driving malfunctioned -- a claim that has been denied by his wife, media reports said.

Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, of Pasadena, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse in February to which he pleaded no guilty.

According to The New York Post, Patel told investigators that the sensor on his Model Y electric car indicated it had low tire pressure as he was driving his wife and two children on the Pacific Coast Highway on January 2 this year.

He further told the investigators that he was trying to stop to check the tires when the vehicle tumbled down the cliff overlooking the ocean, court documents released on Wednesday said.

His wife Neha denied his claims, according to the documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

"He's depressed. He's a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off," Neha told the rescuers.

Patel, a radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, was transported to San Mateo County jail after his release from the hospital where he was treated for "serious lower body injuries".

His wife and two children, aged four and seven, also sustained serious injuries.

Patel told investigators he and his family were on their way to Montara, a beach town where his brother lived, the Post reported, adding he stopped at three gas stations because Tesla's dashboard sensors kept indicating the tire pressure was low.

He added while he was on the Pacific Coast Highway, the car "began to feel different.

"Patel also said his wife had been "irritated" just before the crash because she didn't want to stop by his brother's house.

He also told officers he was not on any medication or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

"When asked if he felt depressed, he related he was not really depressed, he just felt down because times were bad in the world (with) the war and the drugs," California Highway Patrol Officer Aaron Sapien wrote in the documents.

According to witnesses, the Tesla didn't show signs of slowing down before it plummeted off the cliff and the police report also does not indicate a malfunction.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in January the Tesla was not in self-driving mode when it plunged into the rocky beachside bluff.

If convicted of murder charges, Patel could get a life sentence in prison.

 

 
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