Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar Involved in Hit-and-Run

Saratoga councilman and US congressional candidate Rishi Kumar was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run last month, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Kumar, who’s running against Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) for her District 18 seat next year, was cited on Sept. 26 for a misdemeanor hit-and-run with property damage in Cupertino. Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Michael Low said deputies responded to the incident at approximately 4:30pm near the Wolfe Road and Pruneridge Avenue intersection.

“There were three vehicles involved in the collision and no reported injuries,” Low told San Jose Inside. “One of the vehicles involved drove away from the scene without properly exchanging information with the other drivers. Deputies located that vehicle a short time later and identified the driver as Mr. Rishi Kumar.”

According to Low, Kumar cooperated with the investigation and drove back to the scene of the crime. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is now reviewing the case.

When reached for comment, Kumar was forthcoming about what happened.

“I was fully cooperative with law enforcement,” he said. “I am dealing with the legal process involved and I look forward to it being resolved fairly and expeditiously.”

Kumar declined to comment on the claim that he initially fled the scene, however.

The late-September incident wasn’t councilman’s first driving-related offense.

Court records show that local police cited Kumar for speeding twice in the last few years. In July 2019, cops pulled him over for driving 15mph over the speed limit on Highway 237. And he picked up another ticket in 2015 for exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

37 Comments

  1. What a scumbag – hit another car and tried to get away without paying for damages. Only came back to the scene after police forced him back. Integrity, Honesty, and Service should be his campaign platform.

  2. Sort of tired of these ‘hit-gotcha’ pieces. You know that some PR firm hired by someone is behind this – assume Anna Eshoo since she was mentioned?. Honestly, how else would San Jose inside come to find out about an accident, request records, etc. Unless they by routine are monitoring every politicians driving records?

    • Everyone seeking, and in, public office, is subject to extra scrutiny. That’s always been the case.
      Fleeing the scene of an accident reflects a very low level of integrity. This person is not someone I will vote for, nor would I recommend anyone to vote for him.

  3. I heard Rishi Kumar may or may not have some shady business dealings. I wonder where he gets his money from. DO YOU HEAR ME RISHI KUMAR, YOU WILL BE EXPOSED.

  4. It would be helpful to know more about the accident. How extensive was the damage? What was his role in the accident? Did two of the cars get into a major crash and a third was barely involved? Details might explain why he left. If Metro has the accident report, it should post it.

    • Hi Omar,
      Just to give you some context, I did ask for the report and was told that no report was taken. What was included in the story was the only information that I was provided with by the Sheriff’s Office.

      • In all fairness Ms. Hase, the report you originally requested (#19-257-0287) was a different case number. When we were in the process of fulfilling your CPRA request, we determined it involved other parties and the driver in the case you requested (#19-257-0287) did not request a report, thus no report generated. We provided this information to you.

        The actual report involving Mr. Kumar was case (#19-269-0378). You did not mention Mr. Kumar’s name in your initial request or CPRA. Once you mentioned his name, we provided you with the information we had. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to be transparent in our investigations and build the trust of our those in our community. Hopefully this message provides clarification.

    • Because this is a smear piece, not legitimate journalism. It is the first real piece published in Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar. People don’t like it when longtime Democrats are primaried by serious candidates.

      The real question is “Why did SJInside not publish any articles featuring Rishi Kumar when it has profiled no-name candidates that never held elected office and are running for Council in various cities.”

  5. I was in one of the cars involved in this Hit and Run accident that occurred at Wolfe Rd and Pruneridge Avenues on 9/26/2019 that occurred when I was completely stopped for a red light. A sudden jolt from the car behind me, which was also stopped dead, was caused by Mr. Kumar’s Tesla rear ending the BMW SUV behind me. Thanks to the quick action of the SCCSO Dispatcher the BMW driver had contacted because his car was blocking traffic and would not start, Mr. Kumar was stopped at Wolfe Road and Bollinger Road by another SCCSO officer and escorted back to the accident scene. Mr. Kumar was stopped over 2 miles from the accident scene!! So yes, it was a true Hit and Run accident with over $7000.00 in repairs to my car. I do not know the amount of damage to the BMW behind me which had front and rear end damage. Also, Mr. Kumar’s car had front hood damage. Get the facts straight before you call foul on reporting!! As of today, there is no final ruling on the accident by traffic court.

    • Thank you for speaking-up here. Clearly Rishi, in a moment of greed and selfishness ran away to avoid paying for the damage he caused to others AND wanted to hide his shame. This is a public representative and leader? WOW the leadership level bar is officially very low in Saratoga!!

    • The news article was not clear and raises more questions than it answers- and doesn’t seem to justify all the responses. The place of the accident (street, parking lot etc. doesn’t appear, nor the nature of the accident, nor what Rishi did at the scene. Over 20 yrs in legal practice taught me good people behave erratically under stress after an accident. And police reports have a life of their own. What did he do at the scene? He seems to have cooperated when told he had not done enough. The message from one of the other parties is very useful. More is needed to determine if he did anything to try to avoid ID or culpability. That deserves reflection. Can both sides take a deep breath -and pause for more facts? Or is that no longer the “American way”?

      • Hi Hugh, the accident occurred at the Wolfe Road and Pruneridge Avenue intersection- that’s in the story. As for your other questions, what is in the story is all the information I was able to get. If I’m able to obtain any other information from the Sheriff’s Office then I will update the story. Thanks.

        • Grace: thanks for the comment. I would encourage you to look at your own words carefully. “Near” an intersection is not at all clear that it was even on the public street. The lack of needed detail you explain by the lack of additional information to you at the time. I don’t know your level of experience in journalism but a fundamental ethical issue has to do with the balance of “being first with the scoop” and being correct, objective and fair. I would encourage a little reflection on what an early incomplete story can do to a person’s life that can never be undone. Of course, you may be proven to be totally correct in the end – keep digging.

          • Ms. Hase interviewed the subject of the incident and he declined to explain certain details. I don’t know why you’re blaming the reporter for your lack of detail on this story and not the man at the center of what happened, who happens to be asking for your vote.

  6. Bollinger and Wolfe do not intersect. Bollinger and Miller intersect at the border of Cupertino and San José.

    If no incident report, on what basis is this story “news” and not yet another smear campaign against an individual who challenges a long-established politician for their “right” to remain in office?

    If all that B. Prokey describes is true, then it seems the story here is why didn’t a public safety officer file an incident report for the alleged hit-and-run collision?

    I do not condone speeding or hit-and-run behavior of any kind, but something about the lack of verifiable information presented in the story itself seems off.

  7. Why mention speeding tickets? Speeding is now a reason to be excluded from public office? What happened to journalism? Sad!

    • Someone who speeds is more plausibly likely to get into a traffic accident of the sort described. Nobody is saying people should be excluded from public office for speeding, but it IS an irresponsible act that puts people’s lives at risk.

  8. San Jose Inside operates more like a smear piece machine and less like a supposedly neutral news source. It has covered pretty much every no-name candidates running for office in cities around the bay but never published a piece on Rishi Kumar, who is running for Congress and challenging an incumbent that takes the most big pharma $$&.

    Unlike the no name candidates given full length feature pieces, Rishi Kumar has never once been written about, despite his impressive track record as a Saratoga Councilmember and involvement with the Bay Area and state Democratic Party.

    How INTERESTING that the moment there is something negative to write on him, THAT is what is published.

    I would like to have seen a legitimate article highlighting his candidacy and why he is running instead of this form of article being suppressed and the first real mention of him being a smear piece.

    It’s wonderful that Democratic incumbents are being primaried and I’m excited to see legitimate candidates with a real shot take on Rep. Anna Eshoo. Unlike most politicians in it to enrich themselves, Rishi brought down crime by nearly 50% took on San Jose Water and slashed rate increases, and has an actual tech career unlike the no-name candidates with no real job experience to speak of. Saratoga re elected Rishi with the highest number of votes any candidate has ever received and it’s in large part because he is sincere, backs his talk with actual results, and is not a career politician.

    It’s hard not to read this “article” as a political hit job due to the complete absence of coverage on Rishi Kumar and the exciting primary challenge to Rep. Eshoo while there’s coverage of no name challengers that never, ever ran for office in various Council races not just limited to Campbell.

    San Jose Inside, please do better.

    • This is newsworthy, and your seeming insistence that it is not seems to reflect more on your bias regarding Mr. Kumar than anything else. I have met Mr. Kumar and he seems to be a nice man, and I have some empathy for him being in the spotlight with this incident, but this sort of scrutiny is part of the responsibility of being a public figure.

      As far as your outrage about there being no prior coverage of Rishi Kumar, there are like a dozen cities in Santa Clara County with at least five Councilmembers apiece, with regular replacements every two years. You can’t expect a small news team to cover every single Councilmember across the valley, especially about such vague topics as “having an impressive track record” or “being involved.” Saratoga is a great place to live, but it’s a sleepy town, and nobody honestly wants to read an article about Rishi Kumar being part of a unanimous vote to fund regular street maintenance, or whatever he’s been doing. This incident, happening WHILE he’s running for Congress, is a different story.

      I find it bizarre and concerning that there are so many commenters coming out of the woodwork to not simply defend Mr. Kumar, but to attack the reporter herself. Those attacking this article as a “smear” are clearly biased through a personal relationship with Mr. Kumar. Some of the comments on this article seem to add more information and context that does not favor Mr. Kumar, but considering the available information, the range of rational opinions on this should range from, “He made a serious mistake which shows questionable judgement and character,” to, “He may have done something wrong, but I should hold off judgement until I learn more.”

    • RK did none of the above. The Sheriff brought down the crime rate. Our water rates are still high and all RK did was complain a lot. The responsibility for water rates lies with the Santa Clara Valley Water District, San Jose Water Company, and the California Public Utilities Commission. This is NOT the job of the Saratoga City Council

  9. > Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar Involved in Hit-and-Run

    Curious that there was no police report.

    Just wondering:

    Were all of Mr. Kumar’s papers in order?

    Did he have a valid, current driver’s license?

    Did he have proper and current insurance?

    Was his vehicle registered and current?

    Were there and restrictions on Mr. Kumar’s license? Was he required to wear eyeglasses?

    Does he take any prescription medications?

    DId he have or use any alcohol or marijuana before the incident?

    Did the police request that he take a breathalyzer test?

    Did he take breathalyser test?

    Lots of questions about what is the standard, expected protocol in such a situation, what exceptions occurred, and if there were exceptions, why?

  10. @surprised SARATOGAN/ AKA Rishi Kumar: your facts are not quite right. On crime: The crime rate went down not because of Rishi’s efforts but because of the City Council as a body creating a program in conjunction with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office. On water: Rishi never helped to slash water rates. The rates continue to climb. He did nothing but told people to write complaint letters.

    • Thanks for pointing out the facts. Someone also wrote in the Saratoga News (letters to the editor) a few weeks ago the same nonsense, giving Rishi credit for lowering crime by 50 percent and “taking on San Jose Water” slashing our increases.
      Surprised Saratogan suggested Rishi is “unlike other politicians in it to enrich themselves” but one would have to ask is Rishi really any different.

  11. Amazing smear campaign article. Nice job @Grace Hase. Folks will see right through this. Couple of speeding tickets to top it off! How many speeding tickets do you have Grace? Why don’t you list that as well

    • HIT AND RUN. What about this is okay? How would you feel if someone hit your car and then left the scene? And why did he leave the scene? Did you even read the response of the person above who was actually hit with $7,000 in damage?

  12. Don’t know complete facts here. But all we know is that many people took keen interest in responding to this article and comments, including me. And the many people who responded for or against so quickly knew this article was coming. Politics is a game of chess, that’s all.

  13. I’m baffled this newsworthy article is being criticized! Wake up folks; this is a criminal act by an elected official who didn’t care to check if the other drivers were okay. What smear campaign are you talking about? To the many defenders of Kumar here, I say, “Shame on You,” Hit and Run is a serious violation and in this case he is responsible for damaging two cars, double trouble. Thankfully, the victims are not physically hurt.

    To the two Victims: You have my sympathy. You qualify for State Victim Compensation for medical or mental health out -of-pocket losses. Good thing the criminal got caught and thank you Ms. Hase for reporting on this incident. It’s information I should have as a voter in the 18th district.

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