APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects

Police say a rock thrown from a bridge caused this crash.
Police say a rock thrown from a bridge caused this crash.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is asking for the public’s help in finding the person they say is throwing rocks onto Interstate 35.

At least four people were injured in June and July when a rock was thrown through their windshield, according to police.

The first incident happened on June 14 and it happened to three other drivers again on July 27 between 38th and 40th streets on the lower deck of Interstate 35 between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

One of the victims, 36-year-old Kenneth Johnson is still in the hospital with serious injuries. KXAN spoke to his friends and family who say they want the rock thrower caught before someone else gets hurt, or even killed.

“I can’t believe someone would do this,” said Jasper Carbajal who spends his days visiting his friend Kenneth Johnson in the hospital. Johnson was driving home from work late one night last month when police say a large rock went flying through his windshield. “Someone did this deliberately. It wasn’t on accident…it’s horrible.”

Johnson’s father, too upset to talk on camera, says his son now has brain damage. He even had to have part of his skull removed.

“He has ruined a lot of people’s lives,” Carbajal said of the person responsible. “He’s ruined my friend’s life. He almost killed him…he almost died from this.”

“When we’re talking about highway speeds of 60, 70 miles per hour, that rock is hitting you full force,” said Det. Jarrett Crippen with the Austin Police Department. “If it’s coming through your windshield it can cause serious damage to the body, vehicle or even death.”

“It’s scary someone would do this,” Carbajal added. “They need to be caught.”

Weeks later, Michael Pena was driving along the interstate when the object hit the front of his F-150 Ford truck.

“I heard a thump,” he said. “I pulled over thinking it was a blown tire, and found a hole in my grill and through two radiators under the hood.” He also found a rock the size of a softball.

Pena was in the lead of a line of cars around 4 a.m. and has a theory. “If I had been in a car it would have smashed my windshield. I probably would have reacted the wrong way and there would have been a pileup behind me. I think they may be trying to cause accidents.”

Police said the attacks appear to be random and they are now looking to beef up patrols on that stretch of the interstate to help catch the person responsible.

If you have any information contact the Austin Police Department.

If you would like to help with Johnson’s medical expenses, friends and family will be holding two benefits for him this weekend.

  • The first one will be Saturday at the Lost Well beginning at 6 p.m.
  • The other will be Sunday at the Red Eyed Fly beginning at 3 p.m.
  • Bands will be playing music and there will be raffles.

Rock-throwing from overpasses not uncommon

Rock throwing incidents happen often around the country. Earlier this month police near Weatherford, Texas arrested two teenagers accused of throwing rocks and railroad spikes at cars on I-20. One spike hit a woman in the face. She is recovering and the teenagers face charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And two other teenagers in White Deer Township, Pennsylvania face charges after a rock throwing incident along I-80. Police say they were throwing rocks at cars; one hit a woman in the head leaving her critically hurt.

In order to cut down on people throwing rocks, other cities and states have put up fences on overpasses. A Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman said it would not be feasible in Austin to put up fences because the city has so many elevated structures.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

  • http://kxan.com/2014/08/03/friends-raise-funds-for-victim-of-i-35-rock-throwing/ Friends raise funds for victim of I-35 rock-throwing | KXAN.com

    […] APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects […]

  • http://kxan.com/2014/08/05/arrest-made-after-caller-reported-someone-throwing-items-onto-i-35/ Arrest made after caller reported someone throwing items onto I-35 | KXAN.com

    […] APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects […]

  • http://newsinpenn.com/rocks-thrown-onto-highways-are-rare-but-frightening-danger/ Rocks thrown onto highways are rare but frightening danger | Pennsylvania news

    […] He’s one of four people injured in rock-throwing incidents along that highway in June and July, according to KXAN. […]

  • http://whyweloveaustin.com/2014/08/14/building-communities-within/ building communities within | Why We Love Austin

    […] multiple injuries, many surgeries, and has a long road of recovery ahead of him. (See the full story here). If you are able to pay it forward, you can donate here. All funds will go to helping pay […]

  • http://kxan.com/2014/11/03/man-still-in-rehab-months-after-rock-was-thrown-from-overpass/ Man still in rehab months after rock was thrown from overpass | KXAN.com

    […] APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects […]

  • http://kxan.com/2014/11/04/13-rock-throwing-incidents-reported-along-i-35-since-june/ 13 rock-throwing incidents reported along I-35 since June | KXAN.com

    […] APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects […]

  • http://kxan.com/2014/11/20/rock-throwing-vandal-at-it-again-in-14th-case/ Rock-throwing vandal at it again in 14th case | KXAN.com

    […] APD searching for interstate rock-throwing suspects […]

  • http://kxan.com/2016/04/04/two-rock-throwing-cases-on-i-35-sunday-morning/ Two rock throwing cases on I-35 Sunday morning | KXAN.com

    […] first reported incident was on June 14, […]

blog comments powered by Disqus