Man who drove off cliff says he was pulling over to examine tire stress; spouse claims he drove off purposefully, San Francisco Chronicle stories, citing court docket paperwork


This image from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office shows the Tesla on a rocky beach below the cliffs, in an area called Devil’s Slide.


A California man accused of intentionally driving himself, his wife and two children off a cliff on a coastal road, told police he pulled over to the side of the road to check the car’s tire pressure, according to court documents which is available only to the San Francisco courts Chronicle.

His wife told first responders that her husband, 41-year-old Dharmesh Patel, purposely pushed her off the cliff, the Chronicle reported, citing an affidavit through a search warrant.

The outlet did not put the court documents online.

Patel was charged with three counts of attempted murder in January after prosecutors claimed he intentionally diverted his Tesla off a section of the Pacific Coast Highway called Devil’s Slide, crashing the family about 250 feet into a rocky beach. All four family members survived the crash. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

CNN has reached out to Patel’s attorney and his wife, Neha Patel, for comment. CNN is also working to obtain a copy of the court documents.

As rescuers pulled family members from the car, the woman told an emergency services worker “something to the effect that the driver, her husband Dharmesh Patel, did this on purpose,” CHP officer Aaron Sapien wrote in a three-page search warrant affidavit, in the grounds wanted for the confiscation of Patel’s property, reports the Chronicle.

“She then told him that her husband needed a psychological evaluation,” Sapien wrote in the affidavit, according to the Chronicle. “She said suspect Patel chased her away and repeated this several times.”

Another emergency responder also recalled hearing Neha say Patel deliberately drove off the cliff and “was trying to kill everyone,” Sapien wrote in the affidavit, the Chronicle reports.

During an interview with police after the incident, Patel told investigators that he and his family drove about 20 miles to his brother’s home in Montara, Calif., the Chronicle reports, citing the search warrant. He told officers he stopped at three gas stations along the way to inflate the left rear tire, but his dash sensor continued to show low pressure, the search warrant said, the outlet said. While driving the freeway, Patel said the car “started to feel different,” Sapien wrote in the warrant, the outlet says.

“Patel then moved the Tesla onto the ‘unpaved road’ to check tire pressures,” the officer wrote in the search warrant, according to the Chronicle. “Patel said it was only a short distance before they fell off the cliff.”

Patel also told officers he was not on any medication or under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, the search warrant states, the outlet said.

“When asked if he felt depressed, he replied that he wasn’t really depressed, he just felt depressed because of the bad times in the world, the war and the drugs,” Sapien wrote in the search warrant, says the Chronicle. “When asked if he felt suicidal, he replied, ‘You know, not like a plan, not normally,’ and said he was more worried about the world.”

In response to the Chronicle’s report, San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told CNN there was “nothing new for us” while his office drafted the documents supporting the search warrants. “The details in the documents are important evidence of the allegations we have made against Mr. Patel,” he said.

According to court documents, Patel is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on June 12.

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