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NextDoor CEO charged with felony hit-and-run


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Ruh roh. Nextdoor's business involves facilitating police department communication with citizens... so this is probably not a good thing. Surprising that it took so long to file criminal charges!

The crash happened on August 4, 2013, so yeah, that's almost a year. 

“Clearly this was an accident, there was no malicious intent, but the crime is failing to stay at the scene,” Wagstaffe said. “The law does require that one stay on the scene.”

He said that in a case like this where there is only property damage and no injury, it would be a misdemeanor charge, but since injury did occur the count becomes a felony.

A felony hit and run charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.

Source of that quote:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/05/14/nirav-tolia-arrest-crash-nextdoor-next-door-bay-area-tech-ceo-charged-in-u-s-101-hit-and-run/

Not leading by example :(

He might not have realized he caused a crash:

When a California Highway Patrol officer found Tolia at his Pacific Heights home around 7 p.m. that day, he said he did not see Motley’s car hit the median and kept driving instead of stopping because he was “shaken,” according to the CHP report. He didn’t call 911, he said, because he was “in shock” and had seen other drivers indicate that they would call authorities.

Read more:

http://forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2014/05/14/nextdoor-ceo-nirav-tolia-charged-with-felony-hit-and-run/

It's illegal not to stop. 

Is it also illegal not to call if you see other people calling?

But it's not an excuse to not stop because you were "shaken" and/or in "shock", that would give everyone an excuse to leave the scene.

The cars never made contact, so he didn't feel he was culpable?  He still should have stopped, as a witness, and to render assistance.  Maybe he knew full well he had caused her to lose control, and decided to get out of dodge.

"Tolia’s car never hit Motley’s, but when he swerved about a third of the way into her lane, she honked at him and was forced to swerve as well, authorities said. She lost control of the car, spun in front of Tolia’s car and hit the center median. Tolia drove away, and witnesses followed his car and took down his license plate number."

That's a good point. Also it's hard to imagine being shaken and/or in shock and not stopping.

Those seem like the kind of things that make a person stop and collect oneself.

The wife said they did not feel safe stopping:

Tolia "stated that he did not call law enforcement because he was certain that someone called," according to the CHP report. "He also stated that he was in 'shock' and did not know what to do."

His wife, Megha Tolia, told officers she saw the Honda lose control but they continued driving because they did not make contact and "because they did not feel safe stopping."

I'm not even sure what that means. Here's the source of the quote:

http://mercurynews.com/business/ci_25762236/nextdoor-ceo-charged-felony-hit-and-run

The officer seems to think he was aware he caused the accident:

People are charged with hit-and-run accidents when they are "aware that they caused them and don't stop," Wagstaffe said.

Tolia is also facing a lawsuit, which accuses him of causing the accident on Highway 101 in Brisbane on his way home from San Francisco Airport, where a driver spun out of control and damaged her car and broke her hand. Tolia never stopped, according to the lawsuit and a California Highway Patrol report, where an officer recommended the felony charge.

Here's the source of that quote:

http://nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Nextdoor-Website-CEO-Accused-of-Hit-and-Run-259175061.html

Why do several of the articles comment on the breed of her dog?

I was wondering the same thing.

Perhaps it was part of the press pack, or perhaps people just like saying "bichon frise".

Joyce pointed out sagely that naming the breed might make the reader slightly more empathetic towards the lady. I wonder if they would have named it if it was a mean-eyed pit bull or sharp-fanged Alsatian. I note that all but one article neglected to mention he had his kid in the car, which would (potentially) engender the same empathy towards him as said Bichon Frise did towards her.

Conversely, reporting that he had a kid in the car and still didn't stop could make him sound more careless.

You're right that knowing she has a cute dog makes the reader more willing to trust her story.

bichon frise

Then again, she also had five witnesses who stopped to help her, which also makes her story more believable. 

NextDoor CEO pleads "not guilty":

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/05/26/tolia-hit-and-run-charges/

Relevant part of the article:

"A lot of misinformation is being disseminated by the P.I. lawyer," Barton said in a telephone interview, using the shorthand for personal injury lawyer. "The police report indicates that Mr. Tolia was driving at a safe and lawful speed and the other vehicle was driving faster."

According to a California Highway Patrol report, both Tolia and Motley told police that they were driving at about 55 to 60 miles per hour at the time of the accident on Highway 101, though Motley says Tolia's BMW SUV was driving slightly faster than her Honda del Sol.

"My goal is to resolve the case based on what happened in the roadway, not by the information that is being spoon-fed to the media," Barton said.

Valleywag has the full complaint:

http://valleywag.gawker.com/startup-ceo-charged-in-felony-hit-and-run-accident-1576518698

From the comments it sounds like he was driving a company car so the company is responsible?

Valleywag also used this event as an excuse to dive into the history of Nirav Tolia:

http://valleywag.gawker.com/the-twisted-history-behind-the-ceo-charged-with-a-felon-1576708150

A sample from that page:

Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia was charged with a felony for allegedly leaving the scene of a hit-and-run that left a female driver injured. Speeding away in a BMW X5 reflects poorly on a startup like Nextdoor, which raised $100 million to build a social network for good neighbors. But for Tolia, this sudden scrutiny could also undo years of rehab on his tarnished personal brand.

In addition to the felony charge filed by the San Mateo district attorney, Tolia is also being sued by the woman who was allegedly injured as a result. When it comes to civil suits, Tolia knows the drill. Tolia is currently dealing with allegations that he stole trade secrets and infringed on trademark in order to form Nextdoor. And, in 2004, his former cofounders sued Tolia and others for a "pre-conceived scheme" that allegedly defrauded them out of $250 million. [Court documents for both cases are embedded below.]

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