An Uber driver killed a 6-year-old female pedestrian in a New Year’s Eve traffic accident in San Francisco.
Update: The driver was an Uber partner, Uber announced today in an updated statement. The company has deactivated his account. Earlier, Uber had said that if the driver involved in the accident was an Uber partner, the account would be deactivated. “The driver was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident,” Uber said in the updated statement.
The statement may imply that the driver may have been in between Uber fares at the time of the accident, given it happened on New Year’s Eve.
Uber has positioned itself as a more tech-savvy alternative to the relatively hidebound and heavily regulated taxi industry. The accident could have big implications for Uber — and for ridesharing companies like Lyft and Sidecar — by giving taxi supporters ammunition for a political battle. It also raises questions about the company’s responsibility for the actions of its drivers.
Uber initially attempted to distance itself from the situation. A spokesperson declined via email to answer questions about the accident, offering the statement, “We work with transportation providers across the Bay Area, but we can confirm that this tragedy did not [Uber’s emphasis] involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system.”
The San Francisco Police Department later identified the driver as Syed Muzzafar of Union City, Calif. Muzzafar posted the $300,100 bail yesterday, and he will return to court on Jan. 7, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Superior Court wrote in an email to VentureBeat.
In a phone conversation with VentureBeat, Officer Gordon Shyy of the San Francisco Police Department said the driver was booked for vehicular manslaughter.
Shyy told VentureBeat that he’s looking into the case and will release more information as soon as he can.
The news came in a report yesterday from ABC7 News, which attributed the information to police.
Earlier on New Year’s Day, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the death of Sophia Liu, 6, of San Francisco. The accident occurred at around 8 p.m. in the Tenderloin neighborhood. The car also struck Sophia’s brother and mother. All three went to San Francisco General Hospital after the accident.
VentureBeat will update the post if we receive more information on the accident or the company’s actions.