16 Jul 2020
The Yavapai County Attorney’s office recently released a letter in which it stated that ride-sharing company, Uber, should not be held criminally liable in the March 2018 crash in which a pedestrian was killed by one of Uber’s self-driving cars; a Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle.
Reuters reported on March 6th, that the Yavapai County Attorney, Sheila Polk, said there was, “no basis for criminal liability”. The letter also stated that the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, should be referred to Tempe Police “for further investigation”, and that the tragic incident could have been completely avoided had Vasquez not been streaming a television show at the time of the fatal crash.
Police investigators were able to obtain records for Vasquez’ device showed that she had been watching “The Voice” for more than 42 minutes. This directly coincides with the time of the fatal accident that happened at approximately 10:00 p.m.
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Video released of the incident by Uber that is available on YouTube shows the incident up until the moment of the crash in which the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was walking her bicycle across the road when she was killed. It is clear that Vasquez was distracted rather than focused on the road.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are still investigating the case. Vasquez could be facing the charge of vehicular manslaughter.