Tesla driver who drove Model Y off a cliff with family onboard will not stand trial

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A California doctor who drove his family’s Tesla Model Y off Devil’s Slide in January last year will not stand trial. As per Judge Susan Jakubowski, Dharmesh Patel is suitable for mental health diversion. All criminal charges filed against Patel have also been indefinitely suspended. 

The incident surrounding Patel and his family shocked social media, particularly since the family’s Tesla Model Y ended up falling over 250 feet at Devil’s Slide. The area is dangerous, and rescuers noted that they were expecting the worst since the all-electric crossover fell from such a great height. Thanks in no small part to the Model Y’s safety, Patel, his wife, and his two children were able to survive the fall. 

As per previous reports, Patel’s wife informed authorities that the incident was not an accident. Patel himself admitted that he intentionally drove his Model Y off Devil’s Slide while his family was inside, as noted in a KRON4 report. In a comment to the news outlet, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe stated that prosecutors made a “very strenuous objection” to the idea of Patel receiving a mental health diversion. 

During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Dominique Davis stated that Patel has schizoaffective disorder. Davis also noted that Patel should stand trial because he attempted to kill his family. The lawyer also argued that Patel would pose a danger to society.

“(Patel) was hearing footsteps at night. He feared his children would be sold into sex slavery. He carried a knife around for three days. None of this was based on reality… and the defendant felt compelled to act. He drove his entire family over a cliff. It’s a very high and deathly drop. What is most frightening is, no one saw this coming,” the attorney said. 

While the case against Patel seemed strong, his wife testified that she did not want her husband to be prosecuted. She also noted that her children miss their father and they want Patel to come back home. Defense attorney Joshua Bentley took such an angle during the case, arguing that “not everyone who commits a crime is a criminal.”

Following a three-day trial in Mental Health Diversion Court, Judge Susan Jakubowski ruled in Patel’s favor. She also agreed that the right diagnosis for Patel’s mental illness was major depressive disorder. The District Attorney’s Office described Judge Jakubowski’s decision in the following. 

“Weighing all factors, the court determined the defendant was suitable and granted the defense request for mental health diversion. Judge Jakubowski also ruled that the defendant will remain in the county jail for several weeks for what was called a ‘bridging period’ before release in the community,” the District Attorney’s Office wrote. 

Following his release from jail, Patel will be required to wear a GPS monitor. He is also expected to live in his parents’ house in Belmont and test twice every week to show medication compliance. He must also abstain from alcohol and drugs, and surrender his driver’s license and passport. Patel is expected to return to court on July 1, 2024. 

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Tesla driver who drove Model Y off a cliff with family onboard will not stand trial
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