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Indian-American who drove family off cliff asks court for mental health treatment

New York, July 10 (IANS) An Indian-American doctor, accused of deliberately driving his wife and two kids off a 250-foot California cliff, suffers from a major depressive disorder and needs treatment, his lawyers have said.

Dharmesh Patel, a 42-year-old radiologist, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse in February to which he pleaded not guilty.

According to the New York Post, Patel received a diagnosis that would allow him to enter a statewide diversion program and avoid jail time in connection with his attempted murder case.

During a July 31 hearing, a judge will lay out the process for Patel to seek entry into the diversion program — a process that could take months.

Pleading not guilty to the attempted murder, 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.

On his mental health, Patel had told investigators that he was “not really depressed”, as accused by his wife.

He told them that he “just felt down because times were bad in the world, the war and the drugs”, according to an affidavit in support of his arrest.

When investigators specifically asked if he was suicidal, Patel said “you know, not like a plan, not usually”.

He added that his wife had been “irritated” just before the crash because she didn’t want to stop by his brother’s house in Montara.

He also told officers he was not on any medication or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

According to witnesses, the Tesla didn’t show signs of slowing down before it plummeted off the cliff and the police report also does not indicate a malfunction.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in January the Tesla was not in self-driving mode when it plunged into the rocky beachside bluff.

Patel remains in custody without bail.

Last month, he was barred from practicing medicine after the Medical Board of California moved a motion in the court.

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