SAN MATEO, Calif. – The Southern California doctor who allegedly tried to kill his family by driving his Tesla off a cliff at Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County, is requesting a mental health diversion to avoid prison time, authorities said.
Lawyers for radiologist Dharmesh Patel, 41, filed a motion last week asking for a mental health diversion, citing that he suffers from major depressive disorder.
Patel, of Pasadena, was charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder in the Jan. 2 crash. Patel was the driver of a Tesla that plunged 330 feet down a cliff at Devil’s Slide. Patel, his wife, their 4-year-old son, and their 7-year-old daughter all survived the crash.
Judge Jeffrey Finigan ruled that the defendant’s mental health disorder qualifies him for consideration for mental health diversion. However, it is up to Mental Health Diversion Court to determine Patel’s eligibility and suitability for the program.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said if the court grants Patel’s request, he would not have to receive mental health treatment at a facility.
“If the court approves his treatment plan, he could simply get therapy through outpatient counseling. The law does not require any sort of in-patient facility,” said Wagstaffe.
Murder and voluntary manslaughter suspects are excluded from the diversion program, but attempted murder is not explicitly ruled out.
After the program is complete, criminal proceedings are suspended and there is no trial or conviction.
Patel is scheduled to appear on July 31 in Mental Health Diversion Court.