Tag Archives: Doug Ducey

Backup driver in deadly Arizona Uber autonomous crash charged

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Prosecutors have filed a legal cost towards the backup driver of an autonomous Uber car that fatally struck a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix

PHOENIX — The backup Uber driver concerned within the first self-driving car fatality has been charged with negligent murder for being distracted within the moments earlier than fatally placing a girl in suburban Phoenix.

Maricopa County Legal professional Allister Adel’s workplace mentioned on Tuesday that Rafaela Vasquez was charged on Aug. 27 within the 2018 crash in Tempe that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She pleaded not responsible throughout a listening to on Tuesday. Her lawyer didn’t instantly reply to an inquiry from The Related Press.

Prosecutors declined in March 2019 to file legal costs towards Uber, as a company, in Herzberg’s demise.

Vasquez, 46, advised investigators that she didn’t use her cell telephones earlier than the crash.

However the Nationwide Transportation Security Board concluded Vasquez’s failure to observe the highway as she watched the tv present “The Voice” on her telephone was the principle reason behind the crash.

The contributing components cited by the board included Uber’s insufficient security procedures and ineffective oversight of its drivers, Herzberg’s resolution to cross the road outdoors of a crosswalk, and the Arizona Division of Transportation’s inadequate oversight of autonomous car testing.

The board additionally concluded Uber’s de-activation of its automated emergency braking system elevated the dangers related to testing automated autos on public roads. As an alternative of the system, Uber relied on the human backup driver to intervene.

The Uber system detected Herzberg 5.6 seconds earlier than the crash. Nevertheless it however failed to find out whether or not she was a bicyclist, pedestrian or unknown object, or that she was headed into the car’s path, the board mentioned.

The demise reverberated all through the auto business and Silicon Valley and compelled different corporations to sluggish what had been a quick march towards autonomous ride-hailing companies on public roads.

Uber pulled its self-driving vehicles out of Arizona the day earlier than the NTSB issued a preliminary report on the crash, eliminating the roles of about 300 individuals who served as backup drivers and carried out different jobs linked to the autos.

Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from persevering with its exams of self-driving vehicles after Herzberg was run over.

A toxicology report confirmed that Herzberg examined constructive for methamphetamine.

Vasquez had beforehand spent greater than 4 years in jail for 2 felony convictions — making false statements when acquiring unemployment advantages and tried armed theft — earlier than beginning work as an Uber driver, in keeping with court docket data.

Vasquez’s first identify was listed on a driver’s license as Rafael, however police say Vasquez identifies as a girl and goes by the primary identify of Rafaela.

The choice to not criminally cost Uber in Herzberg’s demise was made by Yavapai County Legal professional Sheila Polk, whose officer dealt with the case after the prosecutor’s workplace in metro Phoenix cited a possible battle of curiosity for having beforehand participated in a public-safety marketing campaign with Uber.

The case was returned to prosecutors in metro Phoenix after the choice to not cost Uber had eradicated the battle of curiosity.

A trial for Vasquez is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2021.

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This story has been corrected to indicate Vasquez’s age is 46.

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Krisher reported from Detroit.

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The Newest: Flash flood warning for areas under wildfire

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The Newest on a wildfire in northern Arizona (all instances native):

4:20 p.m.

The Nationwide Climate Service has issued a flash flood warning for Flagstaff communities within the shadow of a wildfire.

The climate service says as much as an inch of rain already has fallen over the hearth. Flooding is anticipated close to downtown Flagstaff and alongside components of Route 66.

The warning expires at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Meteorologist Darren McCollum says the runoff is anticipated to be extra intense due to the wildfire that is been burning round Mount Elden since Sunday.

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3:30 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency for a wildfire burning in northern Arizona.

The hearth that started Sunday now has charred an estimated Four sq. miles (10 sq. kilometers) in a mountain cross that is a chief spot for recreation inside minutes of downtown Flagstaff and is 10 p.c contained.

Ducey’s declaration directs that $200,000 from the state’s normal fund be made out there to the director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Administration.

The funds can be utilized to reimburse eligible emergency response and restoration prices and ensures first responders have the sources they want.

After surveying the hearth Tuesday afternoon and receiving a briefing from emergency officers, Ducey later met with displaced residents at a shelter in Flagstaff.

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eight a.m.

Fireplace crews are utilizing trails and roads to attempt to corral a wildfire burning close to Flagstaff to maintain it away from properties.

Operations chief Todd Abel says the hearth has burned extra intensely due to typically gusty winds that shortly can change the hearth’s route. He says that may pose a problem to firefighters Tuesday.

Rain within the forecast this week may carry some aid.

The hearth has burned 2.eight sq. miles (7.2 sq. kilometers) within the Dry Lake Hills space close to Mount Elden. About 600 individuals are working the hearth, together with plane that may drop water and retardant to sluggish the hearth’s unfold.

Incident commander Wealthy Nieto says the hearth is the highest precedence for sources within the area.

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Wind strikes big wildfire away from nuke amenities in Idaho

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The most important wildfire on the nation’s major nuclear analysis facility in current historical past had been burning near buildings containing nuclear gasoline and different radioactive materials however a change in wind route Wednesday was pushing the flames into open vary on the sprawling website in Idaho, officers mentioned.

The lightning-caused hearth on the Idaho Nationwide Laboratory is one in every of a number of throughout the U.S. West.

Earlier than the wind shifted, the Idaho blaze bought near a number of lab amenities, together with one the place high-level radioactive supplies are studied and one other holding a nuclear reactor, spokeswoman Kerry Martin mentioned.

The lab has a number of security measures for wildfires that usually ignite in southeastern Idaho’s desert rangeland, together with clearing floor round every constructing and having a number of specifically educated hearth crews stationed across the website that is practically the dimensions of Rhode Island.

“It isn’t our first rodeo,” Martin mentioned. “We’ve got hearth stations, lots of hearth tools, we’ve got educated firefighters and tools to chop obstacles.”

The wildfire that ignited Monday is estimated to have burned about 172 sq. miles (445 sq. kilometers). Non-essential laboratory workers have been evacuated.

The nuclear analysis website contains reactors and analysis supplies, in addition to amenities for processing high-level nuclear waste and different radioactive waste.

In the meantime, rain in a forested Arizona metropolis helped firefighters battle a wildfire that has raged for days in a scenic mountain go however is elevating the danger of flooding, officers mentioned.

As much as 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain allowed crews to immediately assault the fireplace, extinguish flames and construct containment traces in an space the place practically three sq. miles (eight sq. kilometers) have burned since Sunday, based on hearth administration group spokesman Steve Kleist.

Forecasters warned of doable flooding due to thunderstorms anticipated Wednesday and Thursday to drench fire-scarred areas within the Coconino Nationwide Forest surrounding Flagstaff, a well-liked mountain getaway within the largest ponderosa pine forest within the U.S.

Residents ordered to evacuate greater than two dozen houses this week have been being allowed to return.

Ladd Vagen, his spouse and two daughters have been staying at a lodge. He mentioned he is curious to scope out the panorama after they go dwelling Wednesday however believes the group “is in simply nice form.” 

Nonetheless, the household can be on discover they could should flee once more.

“I do not assume we will unload our automobiles,” Vagen mentioned. “We could unload minimally and do a greater job of organizing what we will take if we return to ‘go’ standing.”

Arizona has declared an emergency, releasing up funding to battle the blaze. The firefighting price up to now is $2.1 million, incident commander Wealthy Nieto mentioned.

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Related Press author Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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