Dharmesh Arvind Patel, California Tesla Crash Suspect: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

dharmesh patel

Neha Patel/San Mateo Sheriff/Facebook Dharmesh Patel is accused of intentionally driving his Tesla, pictured bottom right, off a California cliff with his wife and two children inside, police say.

Dharmesh Arvind Patel is a California doctor accused of intentionally driving his Tesla off the Pacific Coast Highway and down a 250-foot cliff with his wife and two children inside, according to police. The family, including his wife, Neha Patel, and their children, ages 7 and 4, survived, but were injured, the California Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened on Devil’s Slide cliff near Pacifica, California, in unincorporated San Mateo County on Monday, January 2, 2023, the California Highway Patrol’s San Francisco area division said in a press release. Dharmesh A. Patel, 41, has been charged with attempted murder and child abuse, the highway patrol said in the release.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Brian Pottenger told The Associated Press, “We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle. Every one of us was shocked when we saw movement out of the front windshield.”

Here’s what you need to know about Dharmesh Patel and the crash:

1. Dharmesh Patel Was Arrested After the California Highway Patrol Said Investigators Found Evidence & the Probable Cause to ‘Believe This Incident Was an Intentional Act’

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Neha Patel/FacebookDharmesh Patel with his family.

“On Monday, January 2, 2023, at approximately 10:50 a.m., officers assigned to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) – San Francisco Area office were dispatched to a call of a vehicle over the cliff side on SR-1, just south of the Tom Lantos tunnels,” the highway patrol said in its press release. “CHP officers and additional emergency personnel arrived at the scene, and observed the vehicle, a white Tesla, approximately 250-300 feet down the cliff. Police added in the news release, “Emergency personnel repelled down to the vehicle and located four occupants, two adults and two juveniles, within the vehicle. The occupants were rescued from the vehicle and transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.”

The press release added, “CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene. Based on the evidence collected, investigators developed probable cause to believe this incident was an intentional act. … There has been no determination as to what driving mode the Tesla was in; however, that does not appear to be a contributing factor in this incident.”

Police are asking for anyone who saw the crash or the aftermath or has any other information about the incident to contact them. “Any witnesses are asked to contact the CHP – San Francisco Area at (415) 557-1094,” the highway patrol said in the press release. Police have not said if they have learned a motive or any other details about what led up to the crash.

CHP Officer Mark Andrews told The Associated Press, “I have no idea what his thought pattern was.” He said there were no guardails in the area where the crash occurred. Pottenger told the AP the children “were more scared than they were hurt” and their parents suffered more traumatic injuries. Pottenger added about the area of the crash, “I don’t even like driving it. It’s definitely a treacherous stretch of California.”

2. The San Mateo Sheriff’s Office Shared Photos Showing the Dramatic Rescue of the Patel Family; Firefighters Said They Were ‘Very Shocked’ to Find Survivors Alive in the Car

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of the dramatic rescue of the Patel family. The sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook on January 3, 2023, “This afternoon, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a vehicle over the side of Hwy 1 south of the Tom Lantos tunnel. The Sheriff’s Cliff Rescue and UAS Units assisted @chpgoldengate and @calfire with the rescue. Two adults suffered non-life threatening injuries and two children were unharmed. Tremendous collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office and our partner agencies!”

Video also shows the scene and rescue:

“Just after 11:00am today, a vehicle with two adults and two minors went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide. Witnesses saw the accident and called 911. The vehicle plunged hundreds of feet, flipped, and landed on it’s wheels,” Cal Fire said on Facebook. “All four patients were successfully rescued and in stable condition. Two were taken by ground ambulance, two by helicopter. Multiple agencies responded, including CAL FIRE, Coastside Fire Protection District, North County Fire Authority (Pacifica Fire Dept.), San Mateo County Harbor District (Pillar Point Harbor Patrol), California State Parks (San Mateo) CHP – Golden Gate Division Air Operations American Medical Response U. S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco County of San Mateo – Government. The investigation has been turned over to the CHP.”

CAL FIRE/Coastside Fire Incident Commander Brian Pottenger said in a video shared by the agency, “We had a single vehicle, passenger vehicle, four doors, traveling southbound on Highway 1 that went over the side of this cliff. The damage to the vehicle would indicate that it hit and then flipped several times. It landed mostly on its wheels. When we arrived on scene we knew we had one vehicle over the side. We could see the vehicle. So we immediately went and put a plan in place to lower rescuers down to the vehicle to get eyes and assess what we had. As we were doing that we were able to notice movement in the front seat through binoculars. So we knew that we had at least one person that was alive.”

Pottenger added, “At that point we did not know many people were in the vehicle. So several helicopters were ordered to assist us with hoisting the patients from down below up to top to expedite the rescue. The two juveniles had moderate injuries and we were able to put them in the Stokes basket and affect the rescue prior to the arrival of helicopters because the helicopters had an extended ETA. … We were actually very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle. So that actually was a hopeful moment for us.

The CHP Golden Gate Division Air Operations also shared video of the rescue:

The CHP air division said on Facebook, “This morning, CHP H-30 responded with multiple fire agencies from San Mateo County, CAL FIRE CZU San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit, American Medical Response – San Mateo County, CHP – San Francisco, the United States Coast Guard and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to a report of a ‘vehicle over the cliff’ at Devils Slide. As first responders arrived at the scene, it was determined that 2 adults and 2 children were trapped in a Tesla. While H-30 responded, firefighters rappelled to the scene and rescued the two children.”

The CHP added, “CHP H-30 lowered a El Cerrito Fire Helicopter Rescue Technician (HRT) to the scene who assisted in the extrication and rescue of two adults. CHP H-30 hoisted both adults from the waters edge and transferred them to a waiting Stanford Life Flight Helicopter.”

3. Patel Is a Radiologist Affiliated With Providence Holy Cross Medical Center Who Graduated From Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2008

Dharmesh Patel is a radiologist affiliated with Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California, according to Doximity. He graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2008, according to public records.

Providence Holy Cross said in a statement to KABC, “Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is deeply saddened to learn of a traffic incident involving one of our physicians and his family. We are extremely grateful there were no serious injuries. We will not respond further, as this incident is under investigation.”

According to the Medical Board of California, Patel is licensed as a physician and surgeon. He was issued his medical license in California in April 2013, and it is set to expire in June 2024, according to the medical board’s website. Patel has not had any disciplinary actions, malpractice settlements and does not have any misdemeanor or felony convictions, according to the medical board’s database.

4. Patel & His Wife, a Teacher, Live in Pasadena, California, With Their 7-Year-Old Daughter & 4-Year-Old Son, According to Her Facebook Page

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Neha Patel/FacebookDharmesh Patel with his wife, Neha Patel.

Dharmesh Patel lives with his wife, Neha Patel, and their two kids, a daughter, who is 7, and a son, who is 4, in Pasadena, California, according to Neha Patel’s Facebook page. Neha Patel is originally from Dublin, California, her Facebook page says. She is a teacher at the Polytechnic School, a high school in Pasadena.

They have been together since college, according to her Facebook page. They met while they were both students at the University of California-San Diego. In 2013, she wrote on Facebook about their time at UCSD, “I can’t believe that fourteen years ago, this is where I met my husband and made lifelong friends. It was so awesome walking through the campus and talking about all our college memories. Triton Pride lol!” They were married on May 3, 2008, at the Mitchell Katz Winery in California, according to her Facebook page.

Sarah Walker, a neighbor of the family in Pasadena told KABC, “They’re like ideal neighbors. It seemed like they had a great holiday, they went to go see both parents. It just seemed very happy and great.” Another neighbor, identified only as Heather, added in an interview with the news station, “They’re lovely people. This is really heartbreaking.”

5. Dharmesh Arvind Patel Will Be Booked Into the San Mateo Jail When He Is Released From the Hospital, Police Say

According to the California Highway Patrol San Francisco Area press release, “Mr. Patel is being treated for his injuries and will be booked into San Mateo County Jail upon his release from the hospital. This remains an ongoing investigation and no further information is being released at this time.” According to The Associated Press, Dharmesh Patel, “was in serious but stable condition and has not yet been cleared by doctors to leave,” as of Wednesday, January 4, 2023.

It was not immediately clear if Patel has hired an attorney who could comment on his behalf or when he is scheduled to make his first court appearance. Police have not released any additional details on the conditions of Neha Patel or the couple’s two children. She and her family have not made any statements about the crash. Neha Patel and her children were also still hospitalized on January 4, the AP reported.

The AP added, “Pasadena police records do not show any calls about violence at the family’s home. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the agency had received or investigated any reports on the family.”