Dharmesh Patel, 41, faces numerous attempted murder charges in the Jan 2 crash
An Indian-American doctor, accused of deliberately driving his Tesla Model Y off a cliff near Pacifica in a desperate bid to kill his family, has been barred from practicing medicine by regulators in California.
Dharmesh Patel, a 41-year-old radiologist at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse in February to which he pleaded not guilty.
Patel remains held without bail in the San Mateo County jail since his arrest, Mercury News reported. A preliminary hearing set for this week was delayed while attorneys continue to review evidence in the case.
READ: Tesla Devilâ€™s Slide crash driver charged with attempted murder (January 31, 2023)
The Medical Board of California moved this week to bar Patel from practicing medicine â€” especially if he were released on bail â€” while he faces numerous attempted murder charges related to the Jan 2 crash, according to Mercury News.
The move was necessary, regulators argued in court filings this week, because Patel represented â€œan alarming danger to the publicâ€ in light of an â€œimpairment of cognitive abilities needed to safely practice medicine.â€
â€œPublic protection therefore requires that Defendant be prohibited from practicing medicine throughout the pendencyâ€ of his criminal case, the medical boardâ€™s motion said.
The request, which was made with the help of an attorney with the California Attorney Generalâ€™s office, was approved by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Rachel Holt at a hearing Monday.
Investigators suspect Patel drove his family off a cliff on Jan. 2 near Devilâ€™s Slide along Highway 1, sending the car plunging 250 feet onto a rocky beach.
Patel suffered injuries to his leg and foot, and his wife suffered more severe injuries. While their 4-year-old child escaped with only bruises, their 7-year-old child was more seriously injured. Both children were released from the hospital within a month of the crash.
Patel has pleaded not guilty, claiming the familyâ€™s Tesla had been experiencing tire issues. He told investigators that he stopped three times at gas stations that day while driving to the Devilâ€™s Slide area to put air in his left-rear tire. He added that the carâ€™s tire-pressure sensor light had turned on beforehand.
Yet witnesses cited by Mercury News said the car never appeared to brake as it flew off the highway â€” accounts that were bolstered by video from the Tom Lantos Tunnels, court documents show.
Investigators also say Teslaâ€™s self-driving features did â€œnot appear to be a contributing factorâ€ in the incident.
In arguing for Patel to be barred from practicing medicine, regulators cited comments made by Patelâ€™s wife after she was rescued from the crumpled car.
She told one emergency worker that Patel â€œdid it on purpose,â€ adding later that â€œhe drove off.â€
â€œHeâ€™s depressed,â€ said Patelâ€™s wife, according to court documents cited by Mercury News. â€œHeâ€™s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off the cliff. He purposely drove off.â€
Patelâ€™s mental health has taken center stage since emergency crews arrived at the wrecked vehicle. During those first few moments, his wife urged emergency crews to perform a â€œpsych evaluationâ€ on her husband, court documents show.
When investigators were able to talk to Patel, the physician told them that â€œhe was not really depressed, he just felt down because times were bad in the world, the war and the drugs,â€ according to an affidavit in support of his arrest.
READ: Driver in Devilâ€™s Slide Cliff Crash Charged With Attempted MurderÂ (January 30, 2023)
When investigators specifically asked if he was suicidal, Patel said â€œyou know, not like a plan, not usually.â€ He added that his wife appeared â€œirritatedâ€ before the crash, because he wanted to go this brotherâ€™s house near Montara on their way back to the Los Angeles area, court documents said.
Investigators sought a vast amount of data from Tesla related to the crash, including information uploaded from the car to Teslaâ€™s â€œcloudâ€ servers, as well as the carâ€™s electronic data recorder, according to Mercury News.