Police concerned after deadly hit and run accidents



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Posted on March 23, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 11:41 AM

AUSTIN -- The concerns of police and the community were renewed Saturday after another hit and run crash killed a pedestrian.

Just before 8 a.m. Saturday a person driving home from work in Southeast Austin noticed a body laying on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 183. Glass and parts of a vehicle were found nearby.

"The deceased was found right on the edge of a paved shoulder of the highway," explained APD Cpl. Ken McDonnell. "So there is some debris off to the side of the roadway that makes us believe that a vehicle might have hit the person."

This is the seventh deadly vehicle pedestrian crash this year.

"If you're a pedestrian, you want to try and stay off the roadways," McDonnell said. "You know, you want to try and be facing toward the traffic if you are walking. And it's best to be in a well lit area and this area here is not lit at all at night time, so you know all those can make for a bad combination."

In four of those seven fatal crashes, including the crash Saturday, the driver left the scene.

"Anytime you're involved in a collision it's always best to stop and call the police department." McDonnell said. "There's no way to know whether the person may or may not have lived had somebody called right away."

It's a topic we've become all too familiar with in Austin. Gabrielle Nestande's high profile court case put accidents like this one under the microscope.

"She killed my daughter, she went and hid her car, she went to bed, slept the night, went to work the next day as if nothing happened," the victim's father Bart Griffin told KVUE in February.

A jury found Nestande guilty of criminally negligent homicide after she hit and killed Courtney Griffin in 2011. Just this week, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke out about the increasing problem on our roadways.

"Until this community starts changing its attitude about people being slaughtered on our highways as a result of the aggressive driving and negligence of others, nothing is going to change, nothing is going to change," he said.

With a record number of pedestrians killed last year, Chief Acevedo says he won't stop pushing for that change.

Chief Acevedo is encouraging everyone to write to their lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 275. The bill would stiffen penalties of anyone who hits and kills another person and flees the scene.

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