The driver who was behind the wheel of the self-driving Uber that killed a pedestrian on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona, had felony convictions for attempted armed robbery and making a false statement to police. Rafaela Vasquez, 44, who was convicted under his prior name, Rafael Vasquez, is one of Uber's “safety drivers',” according to The Daily Mail.
Vasquez told police he did not see the victim, 49-year-old Elaine Hertzberg, who walked out in front of Vasquez’s vehicle with her bicycle from a center median into a lane of traffic, until it was too late; the videocameras on the Uber vehicle support Vasquez’s story. Vasquez was reportedly driving 40 mph at the time of the incident.
Sylvia Moir, Tempe Police Chief, told The San Francisco Chronicle, “The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them. His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision."
Vasquez was convicted in January 2001 of attempted armed robbery after attempting to rob a Blockbuster video store with an imitation firearm; he served four years in prison. Vasquez was also convicted of unsworn falsification committed in 1999.
Herzberg reportedly was homeless and had a series of drug convictions.