A former driver for Uber, Syed Muzaffar, was convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter on Thursday after two days of deliberation by a San Francisco jury.
The ex-Uber driver fatally struck a 6-year-old Sophia Liu in a crosswalk the evening of December 31, 2013. The girl’s 5-year-old brother and their mother were also injured in the fatal crash. No passengers were in the vehicle Muzaffar was driving, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
At the time of the accident in 2013, Uber drivers were not covered by the company’s insurance policy if they had not picked up passengers. Liu’s family later sued Uber and Muzaffar, and Uber settled the case for an undisclosed sum in 2015.
“We have a responsibility to each other when we get behind the wheel,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement following the jury’s verdict on Thursday. “Far too much is at risk, and our city is more congested than ever.”
Indeed, a recent study showed what many already know: so-called ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are exacerbating traffic congestion by appealing directly to would-be walkers and public transit riders, pulling them away from other means of transit, according to a report in the Washington Post. The study was conducted across nine metro areas, including San Francisco, where Uber’s headquarters is located.
Muzzaffar, who was charged with a misdemeanor after prosecutors found no evidence of gross negligence, faces up to a year in jail. He no longer drives for Uber.