(NEW YORK POST) – The doctor accused of intentionally driving his Tesla off a 250-foot California cliff with his wife and two young kids inside pleaded not guilty to attempted murder Thursday.
Dharmesh Patel, 41, pleaded not guilty in a Redwood City courtroom to three counts of attempted murder and two enhancements — for the grave injuries his wife and 7-year-old daughter suffered, Patch reported.
Prosecutors said Patel, who was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, drove off the side of a notorious stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway known as the Devil’s Slide on Jan. 2 in an attempted murder-suicide that the family survived.
Firefighters had to cut Patel, 41-year-old wife Neha, their 7-year-old daughter and their 4-year-old son out of the mangled Tesla from the rocks below the cliff. Authorities said it was a “miracle” that the family survived.
Neha told first responders that her husband drove off the cliff on purpose — an allegation backed up by video evidence and other motorists who witnessed the car’s frightening plunge, San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Neha reportedly screamed that Patel “intentionally tried to kill us” when paramedics reached the family.
His wife and their daughter were also seriously injured, while their son suffered minor injuries.
Investigators have not detailed a motive in the case.
“We’re looking into what led up to this. Was there depression or anything else? It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them, he was trying to kill himself too,” Wagstaffe said last month.
A superior court judge reenacted a no-contact order that prevents Patel from communicating with his family at Thursday’s hearing. A previous judge had lifted the order and instead placed a no-harassment order against him.
He has tapped a prominent California attorney, Joshua Bentley, to defend his case, according to Patch. Bentley previously represented ex-San Francisco 49ers star Aldon Smith in a 2021 DUI case.
Bentley attempted to get the judge to drop the no-contact order, stating that the doctor’s family do not want him to be prosecuted.
Patel is being held without bail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 20.