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Authorities ID Man Who Died After Robotaxi Allegedly Blocked San Francisco Ambulance

Written by Liz Lindqwister and Matthew KupferUpdated at Sep. 08, 2023 • 2:08pmPublished Sep. 07, 2023 • 12:14pm
A driverless Cruise car named Tungsten drives down 10th Street as it crosses its intersection with Market Street in Downtown San Francisco. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

A San Francisco man who appears to have been homeless has been identified as the person who died of their injuries after a Cruise robotaxi allegedly blocked an ambulance from transporting him to a hospital.

General Motors-backed Cruise strongly denies the San Francisco Fire Department’s claims that its vehicle blocked the ambulance from transporting Sammy Davis, 69, who had no fixed address, away from the emergency scene—a delay firefighters say contributed to the man’s death. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Davis’ identity to The Standard on Thursday.

On Aug. 14, Davis was struck by a vehicle and suffered life-threatening injuries at Seventh and Harrison streets in the SoMa neighborhood. Davis later died of his injuries.

Public records indicate that Davis had lived in San Francisco and Oakland and was likely low-income. In 1996, the San Francisco Housing Authority went to court to evict him from a home in the Fillmore District.

“The patient was packaged for transport with life-threatening injuries, but we were unable to leave the scene initially due to the Cruise vehicles not moving,” the San Francisco Fire Department report, first reported by Forbes, reads. “The fact that Cruise autonomous vehicles continue to block ingress and egress to critical 911 calls is unacceptable.”

Cruise strongly disputes the fire department’s account of the incident, noting that 90 seconds elapsed between the patient being put on the stretcher and the ambulance leaving the scene.

"Throughout the entire duration the [autonomous vehicle] is stopped, traffic remains unblocked and flowing to the right of the AV," a Cruise spokesperson said in a statement. "The ambulance behind the AV had a clear path to pass the AV as other vehicles, including another ambulance, proceeded to do."

Cruise did not respond to a request for an updated comment.

Cruise, Waymo 24/7 Operations Approved

A pedestrian crosses Division Street in San Francisco as a driverless Cruise taxi approaches. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

Multiple autonomous vehicle companies are operating in San Francisco. It’s unclear which company boasts the best safety record, yet Cruise cars appear to have had more incidents involving injuries, according to publicly available reports from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Waymo and Cruise reported 103 and 68 collisions in San Francisco since Jan. 1, 2022, according to the latest records available from the DMV.

READ MORE: Waymo Robotaxis Crashed More Than Cruise in San Francisco, but Cruise Had More Injuries

Both Cruise and Waymo cleared the last regulatory hurdle toward full driverless deployment at a California Public Utilities Commission hearing in August that allowed both companies to charge for 24/7 driverless rides throughout the city, despite heavy protest from activists and taxi drivers. The state told Cruise to cut its fleet in half after a crash with a fire truck injured a passenger.

This is a developing story.

Matthew Kupfer can be reached at mkupfer@sfstandard.com


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