Father Who Drove His Family Of 4 Off Cliff Suffered Psychotic Break, Doctors Say

On April 24, two doctors for the defense testified that Dharmesh Arvind Patel experienced an episode that led him to believe that his children may be sex trafficked

Facebook Dharmesh Arvind Patel with his family
Facebook Dharmesh Arvind Patel with his family

The man who allegedly drove his car over a California cliff with his family inside the vehicle suffered a psychotic break at the time of the incident, doctors say.

Dharmesh Arvind Patel allegedly drove his family’s Tesla off a 250-foot cliff at Devil’s Slide on Jan. 2 while his 41-year-old wife Neha and two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy were in the vehicle. Per an arrest report by the California Highway Patrol that was previously reviewed by PEOPLE, Patel was arrested after the crash at Stanford Hospital on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse. On Jan. 29, he was charged with three counts of attempted murder.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, on April 24, two doctors testified that at the time of the crash, Patel was experiencing a psychotic episode that led him to believe that his two children may be sex trafficked, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The California radiologist, 40, also suffered from major depressive order, the doctors for the defense, Mark Patterson and James Armontrout, said, according to the outlet.

Related: Neighbor of Calif. Family Driven Off Cliff by Father Says, 'We Don't Know What Goes on Behind Closed Doors'

Sgt Brian Moore/AP/Shutterstock The sight of the crash after Dharmesh Arvind Patel drove his family's Tesla off of a California cliff
Sgt Brian Moore/AP/Shutterstock The sight of the crash after Dharmesh Arvind Patel drove his family's Tesla off of a California cliff

Patel, who has pleaded not guilty to his charges, is now seeking mental health diversion in his case, per the L.A. Times. If granted, he would be released from jail.

Following his release, he would be put on a two-year treatment plan, and if he does not commit another crime — or break the rules imposed upon him within those two years — all of the charges against him would be dropped, the outlet reported.

However, prosecutors oppose the diversion, alleging that the doctor who diagnosed Patel on behalf of the prosecution found that he is suffering from schizoaffective disorder, not major depressive disorder with a psychotic feature. Therefore, they argued, Patel would not be effectively treated by the defense’s proposed plan, per the L.A. Times.

Instead, prosecutors believe the case should stay in court.

Related: Neighbors Left Confused After Seemingly 'Great Guy' Drove Tesla Off Cliff with 'Idyllic Family' Inside

Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock Dharmesh Arvind Patel
Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock Dharmesh Arvind Patel

Wagstaffe, who has previously spoken with PEOPLE about the case, also expressed worry that should Patel be released, he will not be monitored outside of his doctor visits.

“If he goes off his medication, how do you know?” he said, per the L.A. Times. “It’s not like being on probation or on parole. It’s purely the visits with the psychiatrist.”

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At the February court hearing where Patel pleaded not guilty, his defense attorney, Josh Bentley, said his wife, Neha, did not want her husband to face prosecution, KNTV reported at the time.

Patel and his wife were both injured in the crash, and their daughter was hospitalized with injuries, Wagstaffe previously told PEOPLE. Their son sustained just "bumps and bruises, but no injuries," he said.

Facebook Dharmesh Arvind Patel with his wife and kids
Facebook Dharmesh Arvind Patel with his wife and kids

Following the crash, Neha allegedly told paramedics that "he [Patel] intentionally tried to kill us," the district attorney previously told PEOPLE.

"She made that statement when asked, 'What happened? What happened?'" Wagstaffe said at the time. "'He intentionally tried to kill us.' … We have multiple people who heard her say that."

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