The wife of a California doctor charged with deliberately driving them and their kids off a 250-foot cliff had screamed at rescuers that her husband “intentionally tried to kill” them all, according to officials.
Neha Patel, 41, was still conscious when paramedics made it to her family’s crushed Tesla Model Y at the bottom of a notorious steep cliff off Highway 1 known as Devil’s Slide.
She then started “screaming” about her husband’s “intentionality” to kill her and their two kids, a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Specifically, Wagstaffe told the Los Angeles Times that Neha Patel said: “He intentionally tried to kill us.”
“She said very simply this was not an accident,” Wagstaffe told the LA paper of the plunge that officials have called “an absolute miracle” that all four survived, with the youngest walking away with just bruises.
Neha Patel remains hospitalized and has not been interviewed by prosecutors, Wagstaffe said. Her attorney has said that she would talk to investigators only “when she was physically ready to do so.”
Prosecutors also want to interview her daughter — she suffered unspecified serious injuries — but the family has not made her available, he told the outlets.
The wife’s screams were key to her husband, Dharmesh Patel, 41, being charged with three counts of attempted murder Monday, Wagstaffe said.
Prosecutors also have video from a tunnel just before the crash site that shows Patel “making a sharp right turn over the cliff,” as well as witness testimony that he did not try to brake, Wagstaffe said.
“We have concluded that the evidence supports the fact that he intentionally drove his vehicle over that cliff, thereby obviously endangering not just his wife and two children but his own life,” Wagstaffe said at a news conference Monday.
“We do believe the evidence establishes the necessary intent to kill,” Wagstaffe told the Chronicle.
The driver — a radiologist at a Southern California hospital — has not spoken to investigators since the Jan. 2 crash.
He had been hospitalized with “serious lower body injuries” until Friday, when he was booked into San Mateo County jail.
Patel appeared in court in Redwood City Monday where his attorney, Josh Bentley, told the judge he was “not certain he will make it to the microphone” because of his injuries, the Chronicle noted.
His arraignment was adjourned until Feb. 9. Bentley did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Officials don’t believe the Tesla was in self-drive mode at the time and there are no signs of mechanical failure. All four of the Patels were strapped into their seatbelts at the time.
“We’re looking into what led up to this. Was there depression or anything else?” Wagstaffe said. “It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them, he was trying to kill himself too.”
A neighbor on the Patels’ tree-lined cul-de-sac in Pasadena told the LA Times that it was shocking because the doctor “is a great guy.”
“They’re a beautiful, idyllic family, no indication of issues,” Roger Newmark told the paper.
With Post wires