Nirav Tolia, CEO of Nextdoor, a neighborhood-focused social network, was charged Wednesday with felony hit-and-run in San Mateo County for allegedly leaving the scene of a crash that injured a woman whose car spun out of control to avoid a collision with Tolia's BMW on U.S. 101.

Tolia also faces a lawsuit for allegedly triggering the crash that left 50-year-old Patrice Motley with hand, back and neck injuries when her Honda Del Sol made a 180-degree spin across three lanes of traffic before slamming into a concrete median on Aug. 4.

Tolia, 42, has no criminal record. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Redwood City on May 28. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.

In an emailed statement to this newspaper, Tolia said, "I just learned about these allegations and will cooperate fully with authorities."

On its website, San Francisco-based Nextdoor bills itself as a private social network that lets neighbors talk online for free "to build happier, safer places to call home" by alerting one another to neighborhood break-ins, organizing neighborhood watches and encouraging other community activities.

Motley, of San Francisco, had two plates surgically implanted into her left hand following the accident and suffers lingering impairment, according to her San Francisco attorney, Joseph Brent.


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Motley owns her own recruiting company and is a marketing instructor at UC Berkeley's extension marketing certificate program and a part-time instructor in marketing at San Francisco State, Brent said.

"She is incredibly pro-active in the community and is the type of neighbor that Nextdoor would want," Brent said. "One of the ironies is that the CEO of Nextdoor got involved in a situation where you would expect him to be a good neighbor and stay on the scene. The silver lining was that other individuals who were in the area did stop when Mr. Tolia did not."

Five witnesses reported Motley's crash and one provided the CHP with the license plate of Tolia's BMW, which had no damage. Tolia was driving north from San Francisco International Airport to his Vallejo Street home in San Francisco on a clear afternoon when he allegedly drove into Motley's lane just before Candlestick Park, according to a California Highway Patrol report of the crash.

Motley, who was carrying a passenger and her bichon frise dog named Midori, honked her horn and swerved right to avoid a collision, according to Brent.

Even though there was no contact between the cars, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told this newspaper that Tolia "caused the victim to swerve to avoid a collision and the victim lost control, spinning across lanes of traffic. He did not stop. He kept going." Tolia told officers that he was in the second lane from the left on U.S. 101 when he tried to steer into the lane immediately to his right. When his wife told Tolia that another car was already in the lane, Tolia told officers that he immediately slowed down from 55 to 60 mph to about 45 to 50 mph.

That's when he saw the Honda "rotating in a counter-clockwise rotation" in front of him, Tolia told officers.

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."

Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.