A California radiologist’s wife allegedly told paramedics that her husband intentionally drove their Tesla over an infamous California cliff with his family inside intending to kill them.
Dharmesh Patel, 42, was charged Monday with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the Jan. 2 crash that injured his 41-year-old wife Neha Patel and their children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy.
Neha Patel allegedly told paramedics after they had plunged down the 250-foot cliff that “he intentionally tried to kill us,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe tells PEOPLE.
“She made that statement when asked, ‘What happened? What happened?'” Wagstaffe says. “‘He intentionally tried to kill us.’ … We have multiple people who heard her say that.”
Neha, who is still hospitalized, “didn’t get into detail. She was then quickly rendered medical aid and that was the statements from her,” he says.
Wagstaffe says Neha hasn’t been interviewed since then. “She has an attorney and we’re being advised that, through the attorney, that at this point while she’s hospitalized, she does not seek to submit to an interview.”
Wagstaffe says one of the couple’s children was hospitalized with injuries after the crash. The other child sustained “bumps and bruises, but no injuries.”
The crash occurred on a notorious stretch of highway known as the Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County, near Pacifica, along the famous Highway 1, which runs the length of California’s coastline. The Devil’s Slide has been the site of a number of fatalities over the past five decades.
Patel, a radiologist from Pasadena, was arrested after the crash at Stanford Hospital, per an arrest report by the California Highway Patrol that was shared with PEOPLE.
Officials Say It’s an ‘Absolute Miracle’ All 4 People Survived Tesla’s Plunge Over Calif. Cliff
The CHP said in a news release that it was alerted of “a vehicle over the side of the cliff on SR-1” around 10:50 a.m. local time on Jan 2.
Wagstaffe says that after the crash, authorities spoke to “two separate drivers behind him who watched what occurred and were able to provide information about lack of brake lights,” he says.
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Authorities also found video from the nearby Tom Lantos tunnels that “clearly shows his car coming out of the tunnel, going up the hill, making a right turn off the road into a dirt area at the top,” he says. “And then a sharp right turn down and over the edge and down the cliff.”
Wagstaffe says investigators are still trying to determine a possible motive.
“There were three people that we believe he was trying to kill,” he says. “He also wanted to kill himself, obviously. And so, that was an effort to be a murder-suicide.”
“Why would he do this? I’m now convinced that this was an intentional act by him,” he says. “But then, why did he do this? Why did he want to kill the three people he, one would assume, loved the most in human life?”
The Tesla is currently being examined by the California Highway Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team [MAIT].
“They’re doing the full examination of it to see, ‘Did the brakes go out? Do we have flat tires? Whatever they could determine from the vehicle… But there was nothing immediately that would indicate any type of vehicle disability or problem.”
“I am convinced that, on the evidence we have at this point, that it was an intentional act,” he says. “Now, again, multiple things could occur, and this happens in criminal cases where the family comes forward and they give us a description of some things that put a different light on it. Or the wife comes forward and says, ‘Let me tell you what occurred and to explain it.'”
Adds Wagstaffe, “Or the CHP MAIT team comes back and says, ‘Look it, there was a mechanical difficulty with the vehicle.’ So the facts, the whole story, is not out yet. It’s just the story we have right now, it certainly appears this was an intentional act to us and that’s why we filed the charges. But we’ll learn, we’ll find out hopefully more as time goes on.”
Patel has yet to enter a plea.
His attorney could not be reached for comment.
A hearing date is scheduled for Feb. 9.