Drivers Who Witnessed Doctor's Tesla Plunge Off California Cliff Said They Didn't See Brake Lights

Dharmesh Patel was charged Monday with three counts of attempted murder  

Dharmesh A. Patel drove Tesla off a cliff in attempted murder suicide
Dharmesh A. Patel and his family. Photo: Facebook

Two drivers who witnessed a doctor's Tesla plunge off a cliff in California said they didn't see brake lights before the car went off the road.

Investigators spoke to two people who were allegedly driving behind Dharmesh Patel "who watched what occurred and were able to provide information about lack of brake lights," San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe tells PEOPLE.

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.

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. He was released last Friday from the hospital and is now being held in San Mateo County jail.

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."

In addition to the witnesses and the video, Patel's wife Neha also allegedly made a statement to paramedics after they had plunged down the 250-foot cliff that "he intentionally tried to kill us," Wagstaffe says.

"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."

This undated photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows Dharmesh Patel. Patel the driver of a car that plunged off a treacherous cliff in northern California, seriously injuring himself, his wife and their two young children, has been charged with attempted murder California-Car Off Cliff, United States - 31 Jan 2023
Dharmesh Patel. Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Neha, who is still hospitalized, "didn't get into detail. She was then quickly rendered medical aid and that was the statements from her," 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," says Wagstaffe.

One of the couple's children was hospitalized with injuries after the crash. The other child sustained "bumps and bruises, but no injuries," says Wagstaffe.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sgt Brian Moore/AP/Shutterstock (13744707a) In this photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, emergency personnel respond to a vehicle over the side of Highway 1 on Jan. 1, 2023, in San Mateo County, Calif. The driver of the car that plunged 250 feet off a cliff in Northern California, injuring his two young children and his wife, has been released from the hospital and jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse. The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office announced, that Dharmesh Patel is being held without bail California Car Falls Off Cliff, San Mateo County, United States - 04 Jan 2023
Sgt Brian Moore/AP/Shutterstock

Wagstaffe says the Tesla is being examined by the California Highway Patrol's Major Accident Investigation Team [MAIT] "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.'"

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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.

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