Uber driver charged in child’s death

An Uber driver accused of striking and killing a 6-year-old girl while driving in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, a district attorney’s office spokesman said.

Syed Muzzafar, 57, of Union City, was booked into jail on the charge but has since been released on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at the Hall of Justice on Wednesday morning, district attorney’s office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

Muzzafar allegedly fatally struck Sofia Liu as she walked with her mother and brother in a crosswalk at Polk and Ellis streets at about 8 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2013, police said. Sofia’s family members were injured in the collision but survived.

The case prompted criticism of Uber and other transportation network companies operating in the city and led to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in January by Sofia’s family.

The suit filed by attorney Christopher Dolan seeks damages from both Uber and Muzzafar and alleges he was viewing or interacting with his smartphone app for the company when the collision occurred.

Dolan said that is a common practice for the business despite the state’s law banning cellphone use while driving without a hands-free device.

Uber issued a statement following Sofia’s death saying that Muzzafar, who has since had his account deactivated with the company, was not responding to a fare at the time of the collision and did not have a passenger in the car.

Muzzafar’s attorney Graham Archer said following the filing of the wrongful death lawsuit that his client had picked up a fare for Uber earlier that day and was “distraught about the accident.”