Rishi Kumar, an Indian American Saratoga, Calif., councilman and congressional candidate in the 18th District, had all charges dropped against him from a September hit-and-run crash.
The congressional candidate is ready to move on and focus on his campaign.
“I was involved in a traffic accident on Sept. 26. On Dec. 3, the incident was resolved as a (non-moving) violation. The original charge commonly known as hit and run was dismissed,” Kumar told India-West in an email. “My sincere apologies to anyone affected by this matter.
“I have continued to work hard on behalf of all residents of Saratoga and Silicon Valley addressing our tough challenges such as fighting burglaries and super high-water rates during this process,” Kumar, who is running against incumbent Anna Eshoo, told India-West. “We also have continued with our grassroots campaign –nine months already – to represent Silicon Valley in the U.S House of Representatives. What is coming out loud and clear is that people of our district are tired of politics as usual,” Kumar added.
“They want accessible, authentic and responsive representation. This congressional race is about people versus special interest group money influencing the political agenda, tech knowledge versus technological illiteracy, and ‘getting things done’ versus status quo lobbyist-driven politics,” Kumar continued in his statement.
“This is about fixing the broken American healthcare system where special interest groups are dominating, contributing to the political campaigns of our congressional leaders, who in turn are passing legislation that increases the price of healthcare. This certainly does not work well for the interest of American citizens,” Kumar said.
“Silicon Valley deserves leadership with a track record of fighting for people, not taking cues from special interests. That is the reason we are running to change the culture of Washington which has gone astray with lobbyists having a field day while people’s voice is stifled,” Kumar went on. “Also the reason why I have pledged to never accept PAC or special interest group money. This is a campaign for change bringing a people-centric agenda, stepping up to address the top challenges of Silicon Valley and America.”
Kumar, who has filed the paperwork, was the first to qualify in the 18th Congressional District race to be on the ballot.
He says he is excited to step up and work on the tough challenges of the valley, just like he said he has done for the citizens of Saratoga which led to another election win a year ago.
“I am very honored at this opportunity to fight for Silicon Valley and the people of our great nation,” he said.
Kumar was cited on Sept. 26 for a misdemeanor hit-and-run with property damage in Cupertino by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. The county district attorney’s office had filed charges against the councilman in connection with the incident.
Throughout the process Kumar insisted in conversations with India-West that it was a “non-story” and that he would come away from the incident unscathed.
In court, Kumar pleaded no contest to the infraction, and walked away with a small fine for “not exchanging insurance information” following a crash. No points were added to his driver’s license. Had the original charges stuck, he was facing up to a half year in jail and upwards of $1,000 in fines.
The collision occurred on Sept. 26 near Wolfe Road and Pruneridge Avenue in Cupertino, according to court records.
Authorities say Kumar was traveling southbound in the second lane on Wolfe Road when he rear-ended a stopped vehicle. The impact then caused that second driver to hit the car in front of them, according to police.
“[Kumar] reversed his vehicle when he got an opportunity, and then drove forward next to [Driver] 2 on the passenger side,” according to court documents referenced in a San Jose Inside report. “Driver 2 made eye contact with [Kumar]. [Kumar] raised his hand at Driver 2. Driver 2 raised his hand in response to ask for a minute because he was on the phone. Driver 2 was not sure why [Kumar] raised his hand.”
It was at this point when the second driver realized that Kumar was “not going to stop to exchange insurance information and told the dispatcher,” the report said, citing the court documents.
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputy Lauren Romero reportedly then located Kumar traveling southbound on Miller Avenue toward Bollinger Road a short time later.
Back at the scene of the impact, Kumar reportedly told deputies that “traffic was going slow” and that he did not realize the car in front of him was at a stop.”
“[Kumar] intended to stop in the nearby parking lot to exchange information because he did not want to be in traffic,” the incident report said. “[Kumar] made a hand motion at Driver 2 to indicate to Driver 2 to make a right turn into the Hilton parking lot. [Kumar] said Driver 2 was on his cell phone and ‘waved off’ [Kumar].”
The councilman took the second driver's wave as an indication that he “did not want to exchange information.”
Kumar's Tesla had minimal front damage, the second vehicle had minor rear end damage and moderate front damage, and the third vehicle had minor rear end damage. No injuries were reported.
Kumar in an India-West phone interview explained that traffic wasn’t moving, then, as he noticed cars moving in lanes to the left and right of him, he began to move forward when he noticed the car in front of him hadn’t started to inch forward, leading to the crash. The police report notes that Kumar was going roughly 5 mph.
He confirmed most of the incident with this publication, noting that he had taken the car’s license plate down and would call his insurance company later to sort out the crash.
He said when he pulled forward to speak with the driver of the car he hit, the man made a gesture that made him assume he was waving him away as if to say it’s not a big deal.
When pulled over by the deputy, he explained this and he was let go, according to Kumar’s account to India-West.