NTSB team is in Tempe investigating self-driving Uber wreck that killed pedestrian

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(Source: NTSB) (Source: NTSB)
(Source: Matt Barcelo) (Source: Matt Barcelo)
Elaine Herzberg (Source: Facebook, used with permission) Elaine Herzberg (Source: Facebook, used with permission)
Cars go by the scene Monday, March 19, 2018, near where a pedestrian was stuck by an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode late Sunday night in Tempe. (Source: AP Photo/Chris Carlson)) Cars go by the scene Monday, March 19, 2018, near where a pedestrian was stuck by an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode late Sunday night in Tempe. (Source: AP Photo/Chris Carlson))
In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, photo, a group of self-driving Uber vehicles position themselves to take journalists on rides during a media preview at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.  (Source: AP file photo) In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, photo, a group of self-driving Uber vehicles position themselves to take journalists on rides during a media preview at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. (Source: AP file photo)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on the ground Tuesday in Tempe, Arizona, collecting information on Sunday rs fatal collision between an Über self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian.

Meantime, Uber has suspended its self-driving service in Phoenix and other markets after a pedestrian was killed in an accident involving one of its vehicles overnight in Tempe.

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According to Tempe police, a woman who was walking a bike across the street was struck by one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles south of Curry Road on Mill Avenue.

Authorities say that the vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision although there was an operator behind the wheel. Police identified that person as Rafaela Vasquez, 44.

The pedestrian is identified by the Tempe Police Department as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg It says she crossing the road mid-block, and was outside of the crosswalk when she was hit.

"As soon as she walked into the lane of traffic, she was struck by the vehicle," Sgt. Ronald Elcock of the Tempe Police Department said.

[RAW VIDEO: Police discuss deadly crash involving self-driving Uber]

According to Elcock, the preliminary investigation indicates that the Uber Volvo SUV was going about 40 mph when it hit Herzberg.

"Our investigation did not show, at this time, that there were significant signs of the vehicle slowing down," he said.

He also said there were no obvious signs of impairment on the parts of either Vasquez or Herzberg.

The investigation, Elcock stressed, is ongoing. Among the evidence investigators are looking at is video, which Elcock said he has seen. 

"There are several angles that show the driver and they show outside of the vehicle to the front," he explained. "[The video] just shows the vehicle traveling northbound. And it shows the pedestrian approaching the vehicle."

Elcock also said that it is too early to draw any conclusions about the crash and explained that it will be up to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to decide if any charges are filed.

On Tuesday, Tempe police stated: 

Chief Moir and the Tempe Police Department would like to reaffirm that fault has not been determined in this case. Tempe Police Detectives will complete the investigation and it will subsequently be submitted to The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges are warranted. We will continue to communicate and work with our Federal partners in this investigation.

"It's weird. One minute they're here and the next they're gone," said Deniel Klapthor, one of Herzberg's friends. 

Klapthor says Herzberg's life had not been an easy one. 

"Her and her husband split up recently and she was trying to get her life back and she was succeeding with it," she said. 

Klapthor says Herzberg struggled with homelessness for some time. For awhile the two women lived together. But Klapthor says she does not know if her friend had currently found a permanent place to live. 

The two last saw each other a couple weeks ago. 

"She had come by here and she had her hair done real pretty and she had a smile on. I asked her how she was doing and she said 'I'm doing great!;" said Klapthor. 

Sunday night's accident comes just weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey updated his autonomous vehicle executive order where he added updates to require all automated driving systems to follow all federal and state safety standards.

The National Transportation Safety Board media relations division tweeted Monday that the agency will be involved in determining what happened.

NTSB sending team to investigate Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona. More to come.

According to officials, Uber is assisting and there is an active investigation.

Uber officials released the following statement: 

"Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."

An Uber spokesman added that no passengers were in the back seat and one vehicle operator was in the front seat at the time of the accident.

While autonomous vehicles have been in wrecks, this is believed to be the first pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car.

At this time, the rideshare company has suspended their self-driving operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

Not long after the victim was identified Monday, Tempe Mayor Mark Michell tweeted a statement in which he offered sympathy to Herzberg's family and friends and praised Uber for temporarily suspending its autonomous vehicle program in his city.

"That is the responsible step to take at this time," he said.

He also mentioned the City's Vision Zero initiative which, according to the Vision Zero Network on the City of Tempe's Open Data website, "is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all."

Arizona's Family also contacted Ducey's office to request a comment on the crash.

"We are aware of the accident. Our prayers are with the victim, and our hearts go out to her family," reads an email reply to our inquiry. "Our office is in communication with law enforcement. Public safety is our top priority, and the Governor's latest Executive Order provides enhanced enforcement measures and clarity on responsibility in these accidents."

Meantime, the NTSB says new developments on Tuesday include:
•    Meeting with representatives of Über, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Tempe Police Department
•    Beginning examination of the accident vehicle, a Volvo XC90
•    Beginning examination of the accident site
•    Viewing a copy of a video that captured the crash from an aftermarket dash camera mounted in the test vehicle
•    Gathering information about the technology on the test vehicle
•    Collecting information about the pedestrian and the safety driver
•    Beginning collection of any and all electronic data stored on the test vehicle or transmitted to Über

The NTSB investigative team will be in the Tempe area for the remainder of the week. The NTSB will not release any findings or determine the probable cause of the crash while on-scene. Those will come only after a comprehensive investigation of the gathered information and data analysis are complete.

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