Uber driver charged with vehicular manslaughter

A driver for Uber Technologies Inc. whose car hit and killed a six-year-old girl crossing a San Francisco street last January was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, according to a spokesman for the city’s district attorney.

The arrest of the driver on Dec. 8, 2014, following a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the girl’s family, could be another setback for the company as it strives to convince regulators that it is safe. The app-based transportation service has received criticism in some cities for using drivers who don’t have taxi or limousine licenses.

Portland, Oregon recently cited licensing violations in a lawsuit seeking to block Uber from operating there just three days after it started. Officials in Rio de Janeiro similarly accused the car service of operating illegally in that city, while the Dehli state government shut down Uber in the Indian capital after one of its drivers was accused of rape.

Uber said after the six-year-old’s death last Dec. 31 that the driver was “a partner of Uber” who wasn’t providing services on the Uber system at the time of the accident. The girl’s mother and brother were seriously injured, according to the family’s lawsuit in California state court.

The driver, Syed Muzaffar, was released on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in state court.

A lawyer representing Muzaffar in the civil case said that his client, at the time of the accident, was logged into the Uber application, had previously picked up a rider and was waiting to be contacted by another rider when he turned into the intersection and failed to see the family in the crosswalk.

Uber has grown rapidly since starting in 2010. It’s now available in more than 250 cities worldwide and last week raised $1.2 billion in funding, increasing the company’s $17 billion valuation to $40 billion.