A California man accused of intentionally driving his Tesla Model Y off a cliff is blaming the incident on the tires of the electric SUV. Dharmesh Patel, a 41-year old doctor at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, was in the driver’s seat when earlier this year when the Model Y plunged 300 feet down a cliff with his wife and two young children still inside the vehicle.
Despite the massive fall down the side of a cliff and onto a rocky beach below, everyone miraculously survived. As we previously reported Patel’s wife accused him of intentionally driving off the cliff, and along with other evidence police arrested Patel and charged him with three counts of attempted murder and domestic violence, to all of which he has pleaded not guilty.
According to newly unsealed court documents, Patel’s wife repeatedly made the accusation on the way to the hospital after being airlifted out of the accident scene.
“He drove off. He’s depressed. He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposefully drove off,” she said. (via San Francisco Chronicle)
Patel has a completely different story however, telling investigators the Model Y “began to feel different” while driving on the highway. According to Pate he had stopped at three separate gas stations that morning to put air in one of the tires, but the tire pressure warning continued to be displayed. Patel said he eventually pulled off the road at Devil’s slide, the spot where the car flew off the cliff, to check on a possible flat tire, but did not explain how or why the car drove over the edge.
Evidence from the scene and witness statements appears to corroborate Patel’s wife’s version of events. According to one witness, there was no sign of braking after the car turned right and veered onto the dirt road from the highway. Three witnesses confirmed that the Tesla continued without slowing down as it drove along the dirt road and eventually plummeted off the cliff. Physical evidence from the scene also supported the version of events recounted by Patel’s wife.
“The tire marks are consistent with a vehicle making a gradual right turn. The marks continue up the inclined dirt/sand road and end at the apex of the embankment. There appeared to be no indication of any braking… from the driver or vehicle,” the affidavit reads.
Investigators were also able to determine that Tesla’s driver-assist features were not a contributing factor in the crash. Patel is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on June 12, 2023 where a judge will determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.
Two children unharmed, parents suffer non life-threatening injuries after Tesla Model Y falls 250ft down steep cliff [Update]