Nextdoor CEO Charged With Hit-and-Run: DA

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Wednesday, May 14, 2014  |  Updated 5:18 PM PDT
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Nextdoor CEO Charged With Hit-and-Run: DA

NBC Bay Area

Nextdoor.com CEO Nirav Tolia is accused of a hit-and-run in San Mateo County.

Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia was charged Wednesday with a single felony hit-and-run charge for allegedly leaving the scene of a crash last August near the San Francisco International Airport, the San Mateo County district attorney said.

Steve Wagstaffe said Wednesday his office is in the process of filing that charge against Tolia, who runs the neighborhood-based social network. Tolia will get served the paperwork in the mail and he will not be taken into custody, Wagstaffe said.

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.

Reached Tuesday night, Tolia told NBC Bay Area: "I just learned about this lawsuit tonight and will cooperate fully with authorities. This is a personal matter that happened last August and is not related to Nextdoor."

Tolia was not immediately available by phone on Wednesday to comment on the DA's announcement of the charge. Tolia's first court appearance is set for May 28.

San Francisco-based Nextdoor was founded in 2010, and is now used in more than 34,000 neighborhoods, according to the company's website. Nextdoor describes itself as "passionate about building stronger and safer neighborhoods."

"The irony is not lost on anyone that a good neighbor doesn't flee the scene," said Joseph Brent, the attorney who filed a lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco County on behalf of Patrice Renee Motley of San Francisco. "If a car is honking at you, and you watch it spinning out of control, what do you think is going to happen?"

Motley claims in her suit that Tolia made an unsafe lane change in his black BMW X5 SUV and nearly hit her car, forcing her Honda del Sol to spin out of control on the highway and strike a concrete median with oncoming traffic zooming her way.

Her car suffered "moderate" damage and she was taken to San Francisco General complaining of a hurt wrist, according to a CHP report taken on Aug. 4. Brent told NBC Bay Area that she required surgery and plates to be inserted into her hand.

Tolia told CHP officers he did not stop and instead kept driving because he was "shaken" and didn't call 911 because he was certain someone else had, according to the lawsuit and the CHP report. He was driving with his wife and child at the time.

Other drivers followed and took down Tolia's license plate. Police tracked him down and interviewed him and his wife at their home in Pacific Heights.

Prior to starting Nexdoor, Tolia was a co-founder of Epinions. He has also worked at Yahoo.

Both Wagstaffe and the civil attorneys said the coincidence of the criminal charge and the suit - within one day of each other - were complete coincidence.

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