In the late hours of a San Francisco evening, a pedestrian found herself at the center of a distressing incident involving two vehicles, one of which was operating without a human driver.
The chain of events began when an unidentified hit-and-run driver collided with the woman, callously leaving her injured and fleeing the scene. This initial impact propelled her into the path of a Cruise robotaxi, which was autonomously navigating the streets and ultimately ran over her. Cruise, the company responsible for the autonomous vehicle, released an official statement regarding the incident, and multiple news outlets were able to corroborate the details through video footage provided by the company.
According to Cruise’s statement to Insider, the initial collision occurred when a “human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian in the adjacent lane to a Cruise AV.” This collision forcefully pushed the pedestrian into the trajectory of the Cruise robotaxi, which promptly applied its brakes in an attempt to minimize the impact.
Upon arrival at the scene, San Francisco firefighters utilized specialized equipment to lift the autonomous vehicle off the injured woman, who was then swiftly transported to a nearby hospital. The current condition of the victim remains undisclosed, as neither the San Francisco Fire Department nor SFPD has provided updates.
SFPD authorities have raised suspicions that another vehicle, not autonomous, might have been involved in the initial collision. However, neither the vehicle nor its driver were present at the scene during the course of the investigation.
“We believe that another vehicle that was not an autonomous vehicle may have been initially involved in the collision, but the vehicle or driver was not present at the scene during our investigation,” the SFPD told Insider.
Remarkably, the Cruise vehicle involved in the incident remained at the scene but was devoid of both a driver and a passenger who could provide firsthand accounts of the incident.
“Because of the nature of the autonomous vehicles, there’s no driver to speak with, and in this case, there were no passengers inside the vehicle when rescuers arrived,” Justin Schorr, SFFD rescue captain, told NBC in a video interview. “There were also no witnesses on the street. All we know is that the victim was found beneath the vehicle and rescued.”
Justin Schorr, SFFD rescue captain, explained in an NBC interview that the autonomous nature of the vehicle presented a unique challenge as there was no driver to interview, and there were no witnesses on-site. All that is known is that the victim was discovered beneath the vehicle and had to be extricated.
Nevertheless, multiple media outlets have reported that video footage of the incident was captured by the vehicle’s cameras. The SF Chronicle stated that it had reviewed this footage, which purportedly showed the woman in the midst of a crosswalk, with both the Cruise vehicle and the other car having a green light.
Cruise has been operating fully autonomous vehicles in San Francisco since early 2022. In August, the city granted them approval to expand their services and offer autonomous rides around the clock. Initially, Cruise had around 300 vehicles in operation at night and 100 during the day. However, following two separate incidents involving Cruise vehicles, these numbers were scaled back by 50%.
Over the past year, Cruise’s autonomous taxis have been involved in several incidents, including a Cruise AV becoming stuck in wet concrete at a construction site, multiple instances of Cruise vehicles stalling and causing traffic congestion, reports of a Cruise vehicle obstructing emergency vehicles responding to a mass shooting, and an incident in January where firefighters had to shatter the front windshield of a Cruise car to prevent it from running over their hoses.
In response to the most recent incident, Cruise expressed deep concern for the well-being of the injured individual and affirmed their active collaboration with law enforcement to identify the responsible party.