Man walking on US 183 killed short of his 80th birthday

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman driving in East Austin crashed into a 79-year-old man Tuesday morning as he was walking in the crosswalk, killing him on impact, according to police.

autopedcrashOfficers said they received a call just after 6 a.m. from a driver who reported hitting a man on U.S. Highway 183 near Vargas Road.  In that area, the roadway is also known as Bastrop Highway.

“My dad is gone. I’m a daddy’s girl, my dad means the world to me,” Annie Lopez said as she stared at the crosswalk where her father died.  She said Henry Lopez, 79, was on his way to the food bank on Vargas Road.

She found her father’s grocery cart on the side of the road where the crash happened.

“My dad is always going, he can’t be still, always got to be doing something, but I guess today was his day,” Lopez said.

His daughter and other neighbors said crossing the highway is unsafe, even with the crosswalk in place.

“People live on that side, they have to cross over the highway. If they could put a crosswalk over, like a bridge or something safer, for the elderly,” said Debbie Lopez, the 79-year-old’s daughter-in-law.  “Look at where the bus stop is and then we have to cross the highway. It’s dangerous.”

They pointed out it takes too long for the traffic light to turn red, but once it does there’s not enough time to cross. Vargas Road is a popular crossing because of the bus stop on the other side.

Officials at the Austin Transportation Department said whenever there’s a traffic fatality, they immediately send someone to the scene to assess if changes are necessary to make it safer.  The department has to wait for the police department’s full report before making any decisions.

City officials also explained when it’s time to cross, the light will turn white, then flash red.  When it’s time to stop, the red light will be still. They added they haven’t received any formal complaints in the area.

Lopez’s family members were nearby when he was hit and were notified soon after the accident. His daughter said he was going to be 80 years old this month.

The driver who hit Lopez stayed to talk to police and did not receive a citation. The woman, who was driving a silver sedan, said she had a green light, but there were no other witnesses to the crash.

Vargas Road was closed in both directions, and U.S. 183 was down to one lane at that intersection as police investigated. All roads are now reopened.

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