Bicyclist dragged for blocks by driver who failed to stop

Elizabeth English was injured while riding her bicycle.
Elizabeth English was injured while riding her bicycle. (Courtesy: Tim Brehmer)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bicyclist was left with severe injuries after a man hit her with a truck and dragged her several blocks. The driver, Artemio Avila, faces charges for failing to stop and render aid after hitting the young woman.

On March 29 just after 10 p.m., officers received reports of a crash involving a bicyclist. According to the affidavit, Elizabeth English was dragged underneath the vehicle for several blocks before the driver took off. Police say the bicyclist was dragged for nearly half-a-mile, from Airport Boulevard to Greenwood Avenue.

Medical staff report that English is still listed in critical condition.

While the driver didn’t stop, witnesses reported hearing her screaming as the truck dragged her for four-tenths of a mile.

“There are so many cases, that I can make a living just representing cyclists,” said attorney Brad Houston. Houston has represented hundreds of cyclists injured in car crashes over the years, he called the affidavit in English’s case, the most disturbing thing he’s ever read.

Is charged with hitting bicyclist Elizabeth English.
Artemio Gomez-Avila is charged with hitting bicyclist Elizabeth English. (APD)

Witnesses were able get a description of the vehicle as a Dodge Ram pickup with an attached camper shell. The next day, an Austin Police Department officer on his way home from work noticed the suspect’s truck. He was familiar with the suspect vehicle because he was involved in the crash scene investigation the night before. Damage observed to the vehicle included blood on the hood and fresh paint scrapes.

An on-duty officer came and followed the vehicle into Kyle, where the driver was pulled over for a traffic stop. The driver, Artemio Avila, was arrested but he claimed he did not know anything about the crash, according to court documents.

During police questioning Avila said he was home the night of the crash by 6 p.m. and had allowed his cousin to lend the truck to a man named Chago, continued in the affidavit. When police questioned Avila’s cousin, Jesus Aguilar, he told officers he didn’t know anyone named Chago and that Avila wasn’t home until after 10 p.m. on the night of the crash.

Avila eventually admitted to police he was involved in the crash, claiming to have heard a “slight bump on the passenger side of the truck,” as stated in the affidavit. “He was more worried about himself than the fact that he was killing a fellow human being and that is very disturbing,” said Houston.

Avila is being held on a $100,000 bond. He is also being held on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer. The agency tells KXAN in a statement, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a detainer with Travis County Jail on Artemio Gomez-Avla on March 31. ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, recent border crossers and immigration fugitives who have failed to comply with final orders of removal issued by the nation’s immigration courts.”

An ICE spokesperson says Avila was deported to Mexico in 2008.

On a Facebook page dedicated to Elizabeth’s recovery, it says she’s communicating through a white erase board. Friends say despite her injuries, she is smiling, upbeat and giving everyone the thumbs up.

Friends of English have set up a GoFundMe account to help with her medical bills.

Editor’s Note: Details of the extent of the victim’s injuries have been removed from the story at the request of her family. 

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