AUSTIN (KXAN) — An alleged hit-and-run crash on Monday morning ended with an arrest after one witness decided to follow the U-Haul rental truck that reportedly left the scene.
The Austin Police Department confirms the call came in Monday at 9:44 a.m. in the 5000 block of North Interstate 35 southbound, near 51st Street.
“I saw this U-Haul starting to veer wildly a little bit, and crashed into a [BMW], side-swiped it and parts fell everywhere,” said witness Kevin Ludlow. “I assumed because it was on the upper deck that they were just looking for a place to pull over. But, it quickly became apparent that that was not the case and that they were trying to speed off.”
Ludlow witnessed the collision and then followed the U-Haul after it left the scene.
“It became pretty obvious that somebody was following them. So, they definitely started speeding off, running red lights and all that,” Ludlow added. “They got away from me at one point, but, you know, it’s a U-Haul. So, you can see down those winding hills down 12th Street and I saw it, and I caught up to them.”
The chase ended in East Austin at the intersection of Jackie Robinson and Tannehill, near US 183 and MLK.
“I saw them pull over so I just stayed at a distance,” said Ludlow. “I was on the phone with the police the whole time, at this point, and of course, they’re telling me, ‘You don’t need to pursue it. This could be going on. You don’t know what’s going to happen,’ all that. I was like, I feel safe, it’s all right.”
Ludlow said he told police specifically where the suspects were and officers arrived a short time later.
“I don’t know if the police, APD, would advocate people chasing criminals like that, but, I think that they were appreciative of it, nevertheless,” said Ludlow.
Although Ludlow said safety may have been an issue in his efforts to follow the suspected hit-and-run driver, he said he felt he had to in order to hold the driver accountable.
“I was worried about the people that they hit on I-35. Traffic was not too bad, and so I mean, cars were moving 40, 50 mph. They smashed into the car pretty good,” he said. “It’s just wrong. [I was] just trying to help that woman. I don’t know who she is. I probably will never meet her or even get her name but, that’s what happens. So, hopefully she’s a little happier knowing that somebody looked out for her.”
Multiple drivers called 911 to report the collision. At least one person has been arrested.
According to Ludlow, the arresting officer on scene told the witness he knew him from an incident in 2014 where the officer searched Ludlow’s home for the presence of marijuana. At the time, Kevin Ludlow was running for office in the Texas House of Representatives, District 46.
“There was a very confusing situation where police thought that there was marijuana in my house, which there wasn’t,” said Ludlow, who admits he was pretty upset about the interaction at the time. “Turns out that the officer who was the arresting officer [Monday] was that officer who was in my house that day.”
Their interaction two years later? “We kind of just laughed about it and we had a good talk about it,” he said, and of course, they took a selfie.
Ludlow took to social media:
“…I couldn’t believe it and just laughed. We shook hands and took a selfie. It was nice to make peace with him. He appreciated what I had done and said they almost never catch hit and runs.”