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Tesla Crash: CA Doctor Avoids Jail Time On Mental Health Grounds

Tesla Crash: CA Doctor Avoids Jail Time On Mental Health Grounds

Tesla Crash: CA Doctor Avoids Jail Time On Mental Health Grounds

India-West News Desk

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Dharmesh Arvind Patel, the Pasadena doctor who drove his Tesla off Highway 1 on the San Mateo County coast with his family inside, will avoid jail time. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s Office announced that Judge Susan M. Jakubowski found the 43-year-old Patel “eligible and suitable” for mental health diversion during a June 20 hearing.

“Judge Jakubowski made a lengthy statement concluding the defendant was suitable for mental health diversion. She stated that after a review of all the evidence, she had concluded the proper diagnosis for the defendant’s mental illness was major depressive disorder, which is a qualifying mental disorder under the statute,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

The judge also ruled that Patel will remain in county jail for several weeks for a “bridging period” before being released, as suggested by defense doctors. After his release, Patel will be monitored by GPS, must stay at his parents’ home in Belmont, cannot leave San Mateo County, and can only leave home for court or treatment sessions for the first two months. He is also prohibited from using alcohol or drugs and cannot drive.

On January 2, 2023, Patel was driving his Tesla with his wife and children, ages 7 and 4, along Highway 1 when he drove up a hill and off a 250-foot cliff to the rocks below. All four occupants survived the impact, with one child suffering minor injuries. Patel pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder following the incident.

If Patel successfully completes the two-year treatment program, overseen by Stanford University’s forensic psychiatric fellowship, the ruling could lead to a dismissal of all charges against him. Prosecutors had strongly objected to the diversion, arguing Patel posed a danger to the public.

Deputy District Attorney Dominique Davis said Patel suffered from schizoaffective disorder and delusions, describing his mental state before the crash: “He feared his children would be sold into sex slavery. He carried a knife around for three days.”

Patel’s defense attorney countered that he suffered from major depressive disorder, which the judge ultimately accepted as the proper diagnosis.

Judge Jakubowski described Patel as “by all accounts a kind and loving” person who would be better served by treatment at home than awaiting trial in jail. “He wants to continue psychiatric treatment,” Jakubowski said. “The court believes he now realizes the importance of being forthright.”

Patel’s wife had testified in support of his release, stating, “We’re not a family without him.” She has pledged to seek help if needed and report any signs of mental instability.

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