Uber driver involved in the first self-driving vehicle fatality has been charged with negligent homicide

46-year-old Uber driver, Rafaela Vasquez, watching reality singing competition show “The Voice” in the driver’s seat of a self-driving SUV when it lethally struck a passerby in Arizona in 2018 has been accused of careless murder. Vasquez argued not guilty on Tuesday after the Maricopa County grand jury’s arraignment was unlocked.

Vasquez was viewing the show on one of her two mobile phones around 10 p.m. on March 18 while the self-driving vehicle traveled through Tempe at around 43 mph. As Vasquez crossed a bridge, a passerby, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, strolled over the road the other way.

When the vehicle hit Herzberg, it was past the point of no return and the vehicle didn’t have the mechanical capacity to pummel on its brakes in a crisis. Just Vasquez, who had not been focusing, could stop the vehicle. Tempe Detective Kasey Marsland called the lethal accident “completely avoidable” in the report.