Arizona police release video that shows deadly Uber crash

By Susan McFarland

March 22 (UPI) -- Police have released video footage that shows the moments leading up to a self-driving Uber vehicle hitting and killing a 49-year-old Arizona woman this week.

Interior footage from the vehicle shows the human safety operator looking down until the moment of impact of the crash, which is believed to be the first U.S. death involving an autonomous vehicle.


The Volvo was in autonomous mode as it crashed but had a human controller, in case the vehicle must be taken out of self-driving mode. The vehicle was traveling 40 mph in a 35 mph zone, police said.

Investigators identified the operator as Rafaela Vasquez, 44, and the victim as Elaine Herzberg of Mesa, Ariz., who was walking a bike across the street outside of a crosswalk when she was hit.

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Based on an initial police investigation and a review of the video, police believe the crash was unavoidable.

Uber has since pulled its self-driving vehicles from four North American cities while investigators determine circumstances surrounding the crash.

On Twitter, Uber said "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We're fully cooperating with Tempe Police and local authorities as they investigate this incident."

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"The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine's loved ones," an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement. "Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can."

No charges have been filed against Vasquez, who officials said had served prison time on an armed robbery conviction before her release in 2005, a finding that adds more fuel to concerns over Uber's hiring practices.

In November, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission company slapped Uber's parent company with an $8.9 million fine after an investigation found nearly 60 drivers had felony convictions -- violations of Colorado law.

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