Who is criminally liable when a self-driving car fatally strikes a pedestrian? Not the company that built and tested the car -- at least not when it comes to Uber's fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona last March, which killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. Uber won't be charged with a crime, according to a letter, first reported on by Quartz, from Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, the prosecutor who was temporarily in charge of the case. "After a very thorough review of all the evidence presented, this Office has determined that there is no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation arising from this matter," reads the document. Originally, the case was being prosecuted by Arizona's Maricopa County, but that department was forced to temporarily hand it off to Yavapai County due to a potential conflict of interest.
PHOENIX – Prosecutors announced Tuesday that they didn't find evidence to criminally charge Uber in the crash that killed a woman a year ago in Tempe. But it is leaving possible criminal charges against the autonomous car's operator back in Maricopa County officials' hands. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Sullivan Polk's Office took the case at the request of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery after he cited a potential conflict of interest. Polk in a Monday letter to Montgomery said her office would recommend that Tempe police further investigate to help Montgomery's office determine if any other charges should be filed against the driver. A report the Tempe Police Department released in June revealed 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, the operator of Uber's self-driving vehicle, was watching "The Voice" via a streaming service when the autonomous car hit 49-year-old Elena Herzberg on March 18 as she crossed a street outside of a crosswalk with her bike.
Uber will not be held criminally liable in the fatal crash last year in Tempe, Arizona, in which a self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, a county prosecutor announced Tuesday. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said Uber won't face criminal charges in the March 2018 crash -- believed to be the first fatality in the U.S. involving a self-driving vehicle. Polk said her office concluded that video of the crash likely didn't accurately depict the collision and recommended that Tempe police seek more evidence. DRIVER IN FATAL SELF-DRIVING UBER CRASH WAS WATCHING'THE VOICE,' INVESTIGATORS SAY It's not known whether prosecutors are considering charges against the driver. Dashcam video released by the Tempe Police Department last year showed an interior view of Uber backup driver Rafael Vasquez in the moments before the crash.
The Yavapai County Attorney said in a letter made public that there was "no basis for criminal liability" for Uber, but that the back-up driver, Rafaela Vasquez, should be referred to the Tempe police for additional investigation. Prosecutors' decision not to pursue criminal charges removes one potential headache for the ride-hailing company as the company's executives try to resolve a long list of federal investigations, lawsuits and other legal risks ahead of a hotly anticipated initial public offering this year. The crash involved a Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle that Uber was using to test self-driving technology. The fatal accident was a setback from which the company has yet to recover; its autonomous vehicle testing remains dramatically reduced. The accident was also a blow to the entire autonomous vehicle industry and led other companies to temporarily halt their testing.
A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Tempe police released photographs from the pedestrian death involving an Uber self-driving car. The detailed report of more than 300 pages was released by Tempe police Thursday night, along with video and photos from the scene of the March 18 collision. Also released was the 911 call made by the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, 44, after the crash. The Mill Avenue collision, which killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she walked across the street midblock, was the first fatal crash ever to involve a self-driving car.