ARIZONA NEWS

Driver in fatal Uber autonomous crash in Tempe set for June trial

Apr 25, 2023, 5:00 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona Uber driver involved in the first death connected to a fully autonomous vehicle will be tried in June on a negligent homicide charge.

Rafaela Vasquez, 49, previously had been scheduled for trial next month in the March 2018 crash that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she walked a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona. Vasquez’s trial was rescheduled during a brief hearing Tuesday.

Vasquez, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge, told police Herzberg “came out of nowhere” and that she didn’t see her prior to the collision.

Authorities say Vasquez was streaming the television show “The Voice” on a phone and looking downward in the moments before Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV collided with Herzberg. But Vasquez’s attorneys said their client was looking at a messaging activity used by Uber employees on a work cellphone that sat on her right knee. “The Voice” was playing on Vasquez’s personal cellphone, which was sitting on the passenger seat, they said.

Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Uber in Herzberg’s death after the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the main cause of the crash was Vasquez’s failure to monitor the road.

The crash in Arizona wasn’t the first involving an Uber autonomous test vehicle. In March 2017, an Uber SUV flipped onto its side, also in Tempe. No serious injuries were reported, and the driver of the other car was cited for a violation. Herzberg’s trial will be held in Phoenix.

Herzberg’s death was the first involving an autonomous test vehicle but not the first in a car with some self-driving features. The driver of a Tesla Model S was killed in 2016 when his car, operating on its autopilot system, crashed into a tractor-trailer in Florida.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Gas prices are on the decline in Arizona. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)...

Danny Shapiro

Arizona gas prices on the fall heading into Memorial Day weekend

Arizona drivers will get the benefit of decreasing gas prices heading into Memorial Day weekend.

10 minutes ago

Surprise man killed his two children in murder-suicide, police say...

Serena O'Sullivan

Surprise father killed his 2 children in murder-suicide, police say

A Surprise man killed his two children in an apparent murder-suicide on May 20, 2024, according to police.

48 minutes ago

(Inciweb Photo)...

KTAR.com

Firefighters gain some containment of Wildcat Fire burning north of Phoenix

Firefighters had a breakthrough Monday in containing the Wildcat Fire that has been burning north of Phoenix for days.

2 hours ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

3 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: What can we do to prevent drownings during the Arizona summer?

What can we do to prevent drownings during the Arizona summer? Jim Sharpe talks about recent drownings in Arizona on his Sharper Point commentary. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News Subscribe to the KTAR Daily Newsletter: https://bit.ly/45MmM3G Read articles from KTAR News: https://ktar.com/ Download the KTAR app: https://ktar.com/the-ktar-newstalk-app/ Sign up for texts from KTAR: […]

4 hours ago

...

Sponsored Content by Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Driver in fatal Uber autonomous crash in Tempe set for June trial