A driver with the San Francisco transportation company Uber was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a 6-year-old girl in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood on New Year’s Eve, police and company officials said today.

Syed Muzzafar, 57, of Union City, was arrested following the death of 6-year-old Sophia Liu, who was struck as she crossed the street with her mother and brother at Polk and Ellis streets at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

Muzzafar was turning right when he struck the victims, who were walking in the crosswalk, police said.

He was booked into custody on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and posted bail at about 11 p.m. Wednesday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Fahey said.

Uber, which matches riders to private cars via a smartphone app, released a statement today confirming that Muzzafar was a driver for the company and said it has deactivated his account.

Uber officials said he did not have a passenger in his car at the time of the collision.

“We again extend our deepest condolences to the family and victims of this tragic accident,” the company said in a statement.
The pedestrian death was the second in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier in the day, 86-year-old Zhen Guang Ng was fatally struck at Naples and Rolph streets in the city’s Crocker-Amazon neighborhood.

Giampaolo Boschetti, 69, of San Francisco, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to stop at a stop sign in connection with Ng’s death.

Boschetti was also released from custody on Wednesday after posting bail, Fahey said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

9:09 AM: A man has been taken into custody on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter for fatally striking a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood on New Year’s Eve, a police spokesman said today.

The girl, identified by the medical examiner’s office as San Francisco resident Sophia Liu, was struck along with another child and a woman at about 8 p.m. Tuesday at Polk and Ellis streets, police said.

Related: Second Driver Arrested For NYE Pedestrian Deaths

Sophia was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The woman suffered life-threatening injuries while the other child is expected to survive, police said.

The three were in a crosswalk when a vehicle turning right struck them, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said.

Shyy said the driver, Syed Muzzafar (pictured right), a 57-year-old man from Union City, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter following the collision.

He has since been booked with the charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Fahey said Muzzafar was booked into custody early Wednesday morning and was released after posting bail at about 11 p.m.

Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes the Tenderloin, wrote on Facebook that the other two people struck by the car were Sophia’s mother and brother.

“As we start the new year, we as drivers must take our responsibility with care,” Kim wrote. “Pedestrian deaths are senseless and avoidable.”

Kim wrote that the motorist identified himself as a driver with the transportation company Uber, which matches passengers with private cars via a smartphone app.

The company issued a statement saying the collision did not involve a vehicle making a trip with a passenger on Uber, but said it could not confirm whether the driver was associated with the company.

“Our policy is to immediately deactivate any Uber partner involved in a serious law enforcement matter,” the statement said.

“For that reason, we urge the police to release information about the driver in question as soon as possible. If the driver is a partner of Uber, his or her Uber account will immediately be deactivated,” the statement said.

Eve Batey contributed to this report by Dan McMenamin of Bay City News

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  • pitbullstew

    It could have happened to any one of us as a driver, but it didnt, it happened to yet another UBER driver. And while it may seem as unkind for me to say it here, now begins the UBER exempting its corporate personhood from liability after the fact.

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    • RBR

      From sfist: – “Also as reported earlier, Supervisor Jane Kim wrote on Facebook after the incident that Muzzafar had self-identified as an Uber driver. Uber later released a statement saying the driver had not being “doing a trip on the Uber system” at the time and Supervisor Kim later revised her statement, naming him as a “non-taxi, for-pay driver.” Uber declined to clarify to SFist whether the driver may have been available for Uber rides at the time.”

  • This tragedy is an example of why regulation of passenger transportation is so important. If this person were a licensed San Francisco taxi driver, the SFMTA would put this driver out of service. The driver would not be able to provide taxi service in San Francisco, period. As an Uber driver, only after the fact and after distancing themselves (would they distance themselves if the driver were receiving accolades?) did they “deactivate” him. He could still drive a limo, or for another car sharing service. These services must be regulated with the same, intense oversight as taxicabs or they will become more and more out of control with outrageous gouging and reckless drivers. Companies like Uber believe they can have it both ways. They must be accountable for their drivers and their equipment.

    • mz

      If he was a Uber black car driver, then he would be licensed the same as any other limo/towncar driver in the city through SFMTA (UberX is a related service, which uses personal vehicles and non-commercial drivers like Lyft and Sidecar). The fact is, all drivers are supposed to be licensed by the DMV. If someone is unsafe to drive on our streets, then their driver’s license needs to be revoked so that they don’t endanger others, no matter whether they are driving an Uber, a Lyft, a Muni bus, a cement mixer, or a plain old Honda Civic by themselves.

  • Steve Miller

    Re : Uber

    drove for Uber for slightly under two
    months and here’s what I found………….Uber is dangerous for public safety and must
    be shut down . Having to tap a small
    icon on the Uber device ( phone ) to accept, cancel, arriving, etc., and more
    takes your eyes completely off of the road . You are oblivious to traffic for
    those few seconds your looking at your Uber device which can easily cause head –
    on collisions resulting in immediate death & injury . Even if you, yourself cancels you must proceed with why you
    are canceling to the little icons on your Uber device and doing so makes you
    oblivious to traffic and the road ahead of you while driving . There are 6 icons on your Uber device stated
    on you why your cancelling & you must
    select one by tapping on one of the little icons . This is frequently done while driving diverting your eyes off the road ahead of you . You are not paying attention to traffic while
    your concentrating on these little icons on your Uber phone. When driving to get to the the client (
    this happened frequently for me ) the client cancels for one reason or another .
    Because your on the way to pick up your client you receive the cancellation
    notice while your driving and while your
    driving your eyes are taken off the road so you can respond to the beeping sound coming from your
    Uber device . This beeping sound indicates that the client has cancelled the
    fare . While driving, searching then tapping the icons is more dangerous then
    texting . Furthermore, there is no time limit to driving . Unlike Taxi drivers
    who are limited to a ten hour driving period in, San Francisco an Uber driver
    can drive for 20 hours straight or more . Too much driving creates fatigue often leading to confusion, , falling asleep, hallucinations,
    dozing off and considerably more inattentiveness which can cause accidents resulting in injury and even
    death . Being an Uber driver means you must do illegal or unlawful things such
    as take 8 passengers in your car when there are just 4 seat belts . In my case I was required to take 9
    passengers, including myself which would have been 10 people all in a mini van .
    The weight itself is enough to cause my tires to rub against the wheel wells of
    my van creating sparks from stones trapped in the threading of my tires which could ignite the fuel tank causing an explosion even killing all
    those passengers that are trapped inside my mini Van . Another example : That much weight often causes
    unintentional swerving resulting in an accident .

    After I
    complained to my Uber representatives via
    email numerous times about having to take too many passengers creating unsafe
    driving conditions i received absolutely no response and getting zero
    response from other Uber drivers complaints
    may encourage these drivers to do
    unlawful and dangerous things . If you refuse to take all 9 people when there
    are only 6 seat belts the clients ( in my case were upset ) gave me a “ one “ rating and if your rating is too low you will be blocked from driving which is what
    happened in my case . You must also drop
    drivers off at the designated location the client(s) request creating the
    impeding of traffic & the sudden slamming of your brakes so you won’t miss the client(s) destination . Again if you don’t you will be
    graded on your performance from 1 to 5 and in most all cases you will be given
    the lowest rating such as a “ one “ and you will be blocked from driving . So,
    refusing to take all nine passengers (
    10 including myself ) because it is unlawful , dangerous and of a safety concern to your passengers and
    yourself is a reason your account will
    be terminated bu Uber as is what happened to me .

    There are no vehicle inspections required
    by Uber drivers meaning if your car’s brakes are failing or wipers not working it’s still OK to drive in the rain . Does Uber care your brakes
    are failing or wipers aren’t working ?
    Probally not . They just want their 20%
    share of your fare and will probally claim
    no responsibility if your involved in an accident, your brakes fail and wipers
    don’t work while driving in the rain . In the eyes of Uber you are an
    independent driver . It is illegal to
    use your vehicle commercially unless you get commercial registration and insurance
    . Uber drivers do not have commercial insurance and probally most don’t get
    commercial registration for their vehicles or the proper insurances so driving
    commercially for Uber is technically illegal .

    Syed Muzzafar , an Uber driver killed a
    little girl, Sopfia Liu age 6 in, San Francisco on New Years eve . We don’t
    know what really happened but here’s a guy working for pennies on the dollar
    that managed to make his over a $300,000 bail for manslaughter . It would seem
    to me that, Google bailed him out as” hush ” money because they don’t
    want him talking & after he’s out he will be represented by Google’s Attorneys .
    The finest money can buy all the while they make sure he keeps his mouth shut .

    California needs to set precedence for the
    rest our great State and Nation by stopping
    Uber before another tragedy & innocent life is taken .

    Felix Jerry Droz alias Steve Miller