Doctor who drove family off Devil’s Slide cliff eligible for mental health diversion

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Southern California radiologist accused of driving his family off the Pacific Coast Highway last year in a murder-suicide attempt is eligible for a mental health diversion program, a San Mateo Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

On Jan. 2, 2023 Dharmesh A. Patel was driving a Tesla southbound on the highway, with his wife and two children, after spending the holidays with family in the Bay Area. Just outside the Tom Lantos Tunnels, he turned off the road and the car went over a cliff, crashing into the rocky shore and surf below.

Although the car fell 250 feet, all four survived the crash, with one child suffering minor injuries. Prosecutors maintained the crash was intentional and charged Patel on multiple counts, including attempted murder and child abuse, according to court records.

Patel, however, could avoid jail time after Judge Susan Jakubowski concluded Thursday that his major depressive disorder qualified him for mental health diversion.

Patel, 43, has been jailed since the crash and would remain in county jail for several weeks for a “bridging period” before being released, as suggested by the defense doctors.

The court ordered that Patel must live with his parents in Belmont and be on GPS monitoring, and isn’t allowed to leave San Mateo County during his treatment.

Patel is scheduled to appear in court again on July 1.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.