"She made that statement when asked what happened," Wagstaffe says.
The wife of the California radiologist who drove his Tesla off a cliff with his family inside is now saying that her husband deliberately drove the car off the cliff in an attempt to murder them. Dharmesh Patel, 42, was charged on Monday with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the January 2 collision that injured his 41-year-old wife Neha Patel, and their children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, per PEOPLE.
According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, Neha Patel allegedly informed responders that "he intentionally tried to kill us" after they had plummeted over the 250-foot cliff. "She made that statement when asked, 'What happened? What happened?'" Wagstaffe says. "'He intentionally tried to kill us.' … We have multiple people who heard her say that."
UPDATE: Mugshot of Dharmesh Patel, charged by @SanMateoCoDA w/3 counts of att.murder for intentionally driving @Tesla Model Y over cliff in hopes of killing his wife, 4yo son & 7yo daughter, per @CHPSanFrancisco. DA says wife made “incriminating” statements about Patel to medics pic.twitter.com/TtRziYG6it— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 31, 2023
“She said very simply this was not an accident,” Wagstaffe told NYPost of the accident that officials have called “an absolute miracle.” The accident had a miraculous turn of events, with all four surviving and the youngest walking away with only bruises.
According to Wagstaffe, Neha Patel is still in the hospital and has not been questioned by the prosecution. Her counsel shared that she would only cooperate with investigators "when she was physically ready to do so." Prosecutors also want to interrogate her daughter, who sustained unspecified critical injuries, but the family has not made her available, he told the outlets.
Wagstaffe said the wife's screams alleging the act was "intentional" were instrumental in her husband, Dharmesh Patel, 41, being charged with three charges of attempted murder on Monday.
San Mateo DA Steve Wagstaffe explains to media why he charged Dharmesh Patel with intentionally driving his Tesla off a cliff with his family inside pic.twitter.com/y6CsJxxwCB— Matthias Gafni (@mgafni) January 30, 2023
The accident happened on the infamous Devil's Slide, a section of Highway 1 alongside California's coastline. Over the previous fifty years, a number of fatalities have occurred at the Devil's Slide. According to a California Highway Patrol arrest report, Patel, a radiologist from Pasadena, was detained following the collision at Stanford Hospital.
In a news release, the CHP stated that it had received a report of "a vehicle over the side of the cliff on SR-1." After the collision, according to Wagstaffe, "two separate drivers behind him who watched what occurred and were able to provide information about lack of brake lights."
UPDATE: No bail for Dharmesh Patel, Pasadena radiologist charged by @SanMateoCoDA w/att.murder - and enhancements alleging domestic violence & great bodily injury - for driving @Tesla Model Y off 250-foot cliff in hopes of killing wife, 7yo daughter & 4yo son,per @CHPSanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/pg7FCjzozW— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 30, 2023
Authorities also discovered video from the neighboring Tom Lantos tunnels, which "clearly shows his car coming out of the tunnel, going up the hill, making a right turn off the road into a dirt area at the top. And then a sharp right turn down and over the edge and down the cliff."
The detectives are meanwhile still looking to establish a motive. He stated, "There were three people that we believe he was trying to kill," adding, "He also wanted to kill himself, obviously. And so, that was an effort to be a murder-suicide."
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