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Maricopa County prosecutors hand fatal Uber crash case to another office

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A fatal self-driving Uber accident in Tempe has been turned over to another county for prosecution after Maricopa County bowed out citing a potential conflict of interest.

The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office has agreed to review the case.

In letters between the prosecutor offices and Tempe Police, Maricopa County asked the northern Arizona department to assume “our powers and duties in this matter,” pointing out a relationship with Uber’s “ride-sharing business model.”

That relationship involved a publicity campaign from March 2016 that encouraged drivers who had too much to drink to call Uber, the office said in a letter to Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir.

The campaign also pushed discount coupons for the ride-hailing service.

“We believe the Arizona Supreme Court Ethical Rules requires this office to seek out another prosecution agency to review this fatal automobile collisions for possible criminal charges,” the letter said.

Elaine Herzberg, 42, was killed in March as she crossed Mill Avenue and Curry Road at night.

The vehicle was in autonomous mode, but a driver was behind the wheel.

Police passed their investigation on to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, saying the office would decide if charges will be filed against the company or the driver.

Gov. Doug Ducey suspended the self-driving tests in the state, as did Uber, which also temporarily stopped testing in other cities.

Last week, Uber said it would not resume testing in Arizona.

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