Crash victims’ families hold vigil for loved ones

Natalie Dailey
Natalie Dailey

(AUSTIN) KXAN — Since January, 81 people have died in crash across Austin which is the most since 1986.  The city is one death away from Austin’s all-time record for deadly crashes.

Wednesday, Austin Police released new numbers showing what’s contributing to the rise in deaths on Austin roads.

Police said most of the fatal crashes that have happened in Austin have happened after midnight.  APD said 55 percent of deadly crashes involve a a drunk driver, 30 percent of drivers ran red lights, stop signs or were involved in a head-on collision from driving the wrong way.

Vision Zero ATX is a grassroots organization aimed at trying to curb the problem. Their goal is to have zero traffic fatalities and zero serious injuries.

“There’s many ways to do that obviously traffic safety is something that has no silver bullet, it’s something that needs a multi-prong approach and that’s something we’re looking at,” said Nic Moe, co-founder of Vision Zero ATX. “Part of that does involve communication with the community, some of that involves pushing our leaders to make sure we have a smart policy in place and looking at data to see where we can best direct our resources as a community.”

Wednesday night the group held a a candlelight vigil for victim’s families.  Mayor Steve Adler, other Austin City Council members, officers from the Austin Police Department, and Austin Transportation Department manager Jim Dale were in attendance.

“It’s been hard, I don’t think it’s really hit me yet I think I’m still in shock,” explained Katie Dailey who lost her sister, 26-year-old Natalie, in a fatal crash last month.

Austin police said Natalie was riding on the back of a motorcycle headed east on 15th St. and Red River around 6 p.m. on Sunday August 16, 2015.

Dailey said her sister was going for a ride around the block because she had never been on a motorcycle before.

Investigators said a 2005 Buick LaCrosse heading west failed to yield to the right of the way and hit the 2013 Harley Davidson.

Natalie and the driver flew off near Brackenridge Hospital.  Natalie died and her sister said the driver lost his leg.

“She was just resilient nothing could stop her and she always had a smile on her face when she did it,” said Dailey, 29, about her younger sister.

Natalie was a teacher at Bright Horizons Family Center, a former Child Protective Services worker, a nanny and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Austin.  She attended Texas State University and attained a degree in Family and Child Development.

“I’m angry, I’m hurt, I don’t think people understand that a little decision can make a huge impact,” said Dailey.

An impact which has rattled the Dailey family once again. Their father, Gary Dailey,  died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Natalie became an advocate with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and traveled to Washington D.C. to help find a cure. Now Katie is following her sister’s footsteps and advocating for safer roads.

“I don’t want her to be a statistic, I don’t want her to be labeled as another person that was in a crash, it was preventable,” expressed Dailey.

Dailey spoke at the Vision Zero Vigil on Wednesday.

“It’s heartbreaking, I’m not sure if there’s anything any of us can say to those families,” said Austin City Mayor Steve Adler.  “The thought that it could be one of my daughters is horrific thinking about the possibility, but what we can say to those families and to our community is that we understand this importance and something we’re going to take seriously and redouble our efforts.”

Adler said the city council just appropriated money in the last budget to address the five most dangerous intersections in the city of Austin.  He said the design of the streets are important and something they’ll be looking into more than they do now.

“The more top of mind we make this issue the better chance we’ll have to be able to settle or resolve it, said Adler.  “And we do need people to be real conscious of the fact they shouldn’t be drinking and driving, they shouldn’t be texting and talking on the phone and driving.”

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