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Police took more than 2 hours to respond to violent crash

Why the slow response time? It's a little complicated.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin man is thankful he walked away from a bad crash in southeast Austin last week with a few cuts and bruises.

But he's asking questions about why it took so long for an Austin police officer to arrive at the scene.

The crash happened last Tuesday at the intersection of Teri Road and South Pleasant Valley Road. 

Matt Lococo told KVUE he was driving across the intersection when the driver of another SUV sped through the four-way stop sign and crashed into the passenger side of Lococo's SUV.

RELATED: New call system has APD responding nearly twice as fast

Thankfully, neither of the two men were badly hurt, but the crash totaled both of their cars and left debris all over the ground.

"[The other driver's] car was blocking the intersection completely, and that's when I proceeded to call police," Lococo said.

He made that call at 7:40 p.m., according to APD. He asked for police and not EMS because both he and the other driver said they didn't need it at the time.

"I waited about 30 minutes. I called the police again and said, 'Hey, you know, still, nobody has showed up,'" Lococo said.

Another half hour went by but still no response from APD.

"I called again, and I said, 'Hey, still no one showed up. It's been hour. It's getting dark now,'" he said. "'Debris everywhere -- like, nobody has come to clean it up yet. This is just sitting like a fresh accident.'"

Eventually, Lococo said he called 9-1-1 a fourth time and requested EMS.

"In my head, I'm like, 'Well, if I say I'm hurt, maybe someone will come.' And, also, a part of me was like, 'I probably should have someone come check us out just in case I'm more hurt than they actually think. Same with the other guy,'" he said.

A fire truck and an ambulance arrived at the scene at 9:31 p.m., according to APD's records. A firefighter determined neither of the men had serious injuries.

But it wasn't until 9:56 p.m. -- exactly two hours and 16 minutes after the initial 9-1-1 call -- when an Austin police officer arrived at the scene.

"I thought they would at least have responded a little bit or a lot quicker to the incident. I was expecting it'd be maybe an hour at the most," Lococo said.

Lt. Ken Murphy with APD's Emergency Communications Division told KVUE the department's response was "absolutely not appropriate."

"In a Utopian environment, we'd like to get officers there as quickly as possible. That's our goal," he said. "Our goal is to respond as quickly as we can."

Three minutes after the initial 9-1-1, the dispatcher determined there were no units available at the time, Murphy said.

At least 25 officers were busy assisting other high-priority, urgent calls. Some of those calls included an emergency commitment for someone having mental health problems, a robbery that turned into an auto-pedestrian crash, a possible shooter and an aggravated assault.

This specific call was categorized by a dispatcher as a "priority 2 crash urgent," which is not as urgent as a priority 0 or 1 call.

The reason, Lt. Murphy said, is Lococo did not initially report any injuries and the dispatcher was unaware one of the cars was blocking the road.

"It would've been a higher priority if they would've known there were injuries or cars blocking," Lt. Murphy said. "Dispatchers try to gather as much information as they can. It's very difficult when dealing with someone in a stressful situation to obtain the information accurately."

Lt. Murphy said officers were so busy that Tuesday night, they had to call in officers from other sectors to come in and help.

"Staffing is one of the contributing factors why this occurred, most certainly," he said.

Lococo wishes dispatchers would have been more transparent about the delay.

"I know the police have a really difficult job. I respect their job," he said. "But at least tell me that I can expect to wait that long and don't say, 'It's on standby. The call is pending. The call is pending.'"

Lt. Murphy urges drivers involved in crashes to provide dispatchers with an exact location, tell them whether anyone is hurt and determine whether the cars involved in the crash are movable.

If they are, drivers should move them off the road into a safe place so there aren't any subsequent crashes.


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