A former Uber driver was convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter Thursday in connection with the 2013 death of a 6-year-old girl he struck in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
Syed Abid Muzaffar, 61, of Union City, was charged after he ran over Sophia Liu as she crossed at Polk and Ellis streets with her family on New Year’s Eve in 2013. He also struck Liu’s mother and 5-year-old brother, who survived.
Prosecutors said Muzaffar ran over Liu and then reversed back over her before getting out of his car. She died around 30 minutes later.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Muzaffar and Uber, which denied liability because Muzaffar was not carrying a passenger when the collision occurred.
However the death later prompted the company to close a gap in insurance coverage for drivers between rides. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2015.
Jurors began deliberating Tuesday, and reached a verdict Thursday morning. Defense attorneys had argued that the family had just stepped into the crosswalk when the collision occurred, and that Muzaffar’s ability to see them was blocked by a windshield pillar in his car that created a blindspot.
Muzaffar could potentially be sentenced to up to a year in county jail.
“We have a responsibility to each other when we get behind the wheel,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “It’s imperative that we all slow down and remain completely alert when operating a vehicle. Far too much is at risk, and our city is more congested than ever.”