Indian-American Doctor Avoids Jail In Tesla Cliff Crash Through Mental Health Treatment – News18

Last update: June 27, 2024, 08:31 IST

Patel, his wife Neha and their children (a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy at the time) miraculously survived. (Image: Facebook)

Dharmesh Patel, who drove his family off a cliff in a psychotic episode, avoids jail with mental health treatment under ‘mental health diversion’ sentence in California

An Indian-American doctor from the state of California will undergo mental health treatment instead of serving a prison sentence after driving his Tesla off a cliff with his wife and two young children in January last year.

American psychologists testified that Dharmesh Patel, who was described as having “suicidal” tendencies, suffered from schizoaffective disorder and major depressive disorder, leading him to believe his family was at risk of sex trafficking.

In April, two doctors testified in court that Patel suffered from major depressive disorder and experienced a psychotic break during the incident on January 2, 2023. The Tesla Model Y plunged off a 250-foot cliff known as “Devil’s Slide” on Highway 1 and landed on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.

Patel, his wife Neha and their two children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, survived. Initially charged with three counts of attempted murder, Patel pleaded not guilty and claimed that the Tesla malfunctioned and fell off the cliff. However, his wife later testified that she did not want him prosecuted.

On Thursday, a U.S. court approved Patel for a “mental health diversion” program, which allows defendants with significant mental illnesses involved in their crimes to receive treatment instead of incarceration, the official said. New York Post reported.

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Superior Court Judge Susan M. Jakubowski ruled based on medical evaluations and released Patel to the custody of his parents in California. He will be monitored with GPS, require weekly judicial checks and must surrender his license and passport. The next hearing is scheduled for July 1.

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