Dharmesh Patel of Pasadena, the man behind the wheel of the Tesla Model Y that plunged 250 feet off a cliff at Devil’s Slide in California, has pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday. He is charged with three counts of attempted murder and domestic violence.
Among Patel’s victims were his wife, as well as his 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. Rescuers who responded to the incident noted that the kids were able to escape the 250-foot drop with mild to moderate injuries. Patel and his wife escaped with more serious injuries.
On Thursday, Patel was ordered by a judge to remain in custody with no bail. He was also given a no-contact order, which prevents him from contacting his wife and his two children.
Prosecutors and the California Highway Patrol noted that on January 2, Patel was driving his Model Y near Devil’s Slide when he steered the vehicle off the road. Patel’s alleged actions resulted in the Model Y falling off the cliff and crashing on its wheels onto a beach. Cameras in the area reportedly revealed that the Model Y did not engage its brake lights as it headed to the cliff.
The family miraculously survived.
In a statement to KRON4, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe noted that Patel’s wife was screaming when she was reached by the paramedics. She also issued a statement immediately. “She did make a statement. She said, very simply, ‘this was not an accident,'” Wagstaffe said.
The District Attorney also noted that while the Tesla Model Y was crushed on all sides, “by some miracle that I don’t understand, all of them have survived.” Wagstaffe also stated that they are currently looking into Patel’s motive. “We don’t know the motive. That is the big question right now. But we will continue to look into that, why he would do this,” he said.
Interestingly enough, a defense attorney has stated that Patel’s wife reportedly does not want to prosecute her husband. As per Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher, however, there seems to be enough evidence to prove the charges against Patel.
“Regardless of whether she is cooperative, we believe we have sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.” He added that the case is a “very dynamic situation whenever you have this violence within a family setting,” Gallagher said.
Prior to the accident, Patel was working as a doctor at the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. If found guilty, he may face life in prison.
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