Police: Fatal autonomous Uber crash in Tempe may have been unavoidable
PHOENIX — A fatal collision between a self-driving Uber vehicle and a woman that happened over the weekend in Tempe may have been unavoidable, police said.
In an exclusive interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said car-recorded video of the crash showed just how quickly it happened.
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” the chief told the outlet.
Moir said the driver told police that the driver, 44-year-old Rafael Vasquez, did not see the victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg until the car hit her.
The chief said it appeared that Uber may not be at fault in the accident, though other charges could result.
“I won’t rule out the potential to file charges against the (backup driver) in the Uber vehicle,” she said, adding that it would be “new ground” should the robotic car found to be at fault.
Herzberg was killed Sunday night near Mill and Curry roads about 100 yards from a crosswalk.
“It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated, managed crosswalks are available,” Moir said.
Moir’s agency, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, were investigating the crash.