Backup driver in deadly self-driving Uber crash could face charges

Posted at 12:56 AM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 07:45:48-04

Tempe Police have released new body camera video and the police report from the night of March 19, when a self-driving Uber hit and killed a pedestrian.

According to the Tempe police report released Thursday, the case has been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review of possible charges against the backup driver, Rafaela Vasquez.

The pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, was killed in the collision. New pictures show her bike left behind and a big dent on the right front end of the Uber. 

The body camera footage shows officers interviewing Vasquez in the Uber after the accident. 

"The car was in auto drive and all of a sudden, I didn't see it," Vasquez said. "The car didn't see it. And all of a sudden it was just there. Shot out in front and I know I hit them."

In a separate video released by Uber in March, Vasquez can be seen looking down for a few seconds at a time while driving, but it's unclear if her glances had something to do with the program. 

Vasquez was given a field sobriety test at the scene, the body camera footage shows.

"I'm sick over what happened," Vasquez said at one point.

The Tempe police report says Vasquez had a “disregard for assigned job function to intervene in a hazardous situation” and the crash may have been avoided if she was watching the road. 

It also states Vasquez was “distracted and looking down for the 31% of the 21 minutes and 48 seconds prior to the collision.”

The report also says Herzberg unlawfully crossing the road at an unmarked location was a factor in the crash.

Uber has since shut down their self-driving program in the Phoenix area. The victim's family reached a settlement with Uber.