Deadly crash involving self-driving Uber raises questions on company policies

Posted at 10:15 PM, Mar 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 01:25:22-04

ABC15 is uncovering brand new details about the deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber.

It happened Sunday around 10 p.m. near Mill Avenue and Curry Road. 

Uber says the vehicle was in self-drive mode at the time, but an operator was also behind the wheel. 

That operator has been identified as 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez. 

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections website and court documents, Vasquez spent time in prison for attempted armed robbery and lying to obtain unemployment benefits. 

Uber tells us the company did the necessary background checks, and per Arizona law, cannot allow someone who's been convicted of a major crime within the past seven years be a driver. 

Vasquez's crimes were from almost two decades ago which is why nothing may have shown up in a background check. And these rules don't just apply to Uber; it's for all rideshare companies. 

Tempe police have not said who is at fault and have not charged Vasquez with any crimes. It was also reported the victim was not in the crosswalk at the time of the crash. 

The investigation is just beginning, with the NTSB on scene Tuesday gathering evidence.

As we mentioned, the vehicle was in self-drive mode at the time, but Uber says allowing the drive to regain control is fairly simple, only requiring a mere turn of 17 degrees of the steering wheel, or putting your foot on the gas or the break. 

There is video evidence of the crash as the self-driving car is equipped with more than a dozen cameras.