Backup driver pleads guilty to endangerment in Tempe self-driving Uber death

Published: Friday, July 28, 2023 - 2:49pm
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2023 - 2:53pm

In 2018, a self-driving Uber struck and killed a woman walking a bicycle across a Tempe street. Now, a judge has handed down a sentence for the backup driver of the SUV that hit the 49-year-old victim.

Rafaela Vasquez told Tempe police that the victim “came out of nowhere” that night in March 2018. According to a police report, Vasquez was looking down just before it happened and streaming the TV show "The Voice."

Vasquez was charged with negligent homicide, a felony. She pled guilty to endangerment, which could be reclassified as a misdemeanor if she completes the three-year probation the judge handed down in response.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said that the sentence was appropriate, and that safety should be the first priority for anyone behind the wheel regardless of what technology is available.

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