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Yavapai County Attorney clears Uber in deadly self-driving car crash in Tempe

Posted: 3:04 PM, Mar 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-05 21:38:18-05
Uber driver in Tempe

TEMPE, AZ — The Uber corporation will not face criminal liability for a deadly crash involving one of its self-driving vehicles last year in Tempe.

In a statement Tuesday, the Yavapai County Attorney's Office said, "there is no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation arising from this matter."

The Yavapai County attorney reviewed the case due to a potential conflict of interest because the Maricopa County Attorney's Office had partnered with Uber in the past.

"We agreed to accept the case and review the matter for a charging decision only," Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk wrote in a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and shared with news organizations. "[T]his Office has concluded that the collision video, as it displays, likely does not accurately depict the events that occurred. We therefore recommend that the matter be furthered to the Tempe Police Department to obtain additional evidence."

YCAO specifically recommended an expert analyze the video to match what and when the driver of the Uber, Rafaela Vasquez, would or should have seen that night.

The crash happened nearly a year ago, when one of Uber's self-driving SUVs hit and killed Elaine Herzberg as she was crossing mid-block near Mill Avenue and Curry Road. Last month, her family filed a $10 million notice of claim with the City of Tempe, saying that a brick pathway "is clearly designed to accommodate people to cross" at the crash scene.

The crash and subsequent investigation led Uber to cease all autonomous vehicle operations and eventually leave the state.

Yavapai County has returned the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for consideration as to whether Vasquez should face criminal charges.