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Indian-American doctor who drove family off cliff had a psychotic episode, says psychologist


April 28, 2024: Dharmesh Patel, the California doctor who veered his Tesla off a 250-foot cliff with his family aboard was reportedly gripped by a psychotic episode, believing his children were in imminent danger of being trafficked for sex, according to reports.

Patel, a 43-year-old radiologist, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse in February 2023 to which he pleaded not guilty.

New expert witnesses shed light on the events leading up to the plunge, attributing Patel’s actions to a severe psychotic break. Dr. Mark Patterson, a psychologist, testified that Patel’s psychosis had reached its peak before the incident. Patel, reportedly, had been plagued by auditory hallucinations, including the sensation of someone following him.

The incident, which occurred while Patel was driving with his wife and their two young children, ages 4 and 7, miraculously ended with all occupants surviving the catastrophic fall.

Patel had told investigators that the sensor on his Model Y electric car indicated it had low tire pressure as he was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway on January 2 this year.

His claims were rejected by his wife who said her husband deliberately drove off the cliff.

“He’s depressed. He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off,” Patel’s wife told rescuers.

Patel is seeking mental health diversion, a legal process that would divert him from incarceration and instead place him on a comprehensive treatment plan for two years. If a judge grants the doctor’s request, Patel would be placed on a two-year treatment plan and the charges against him would be dropped.

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