Pedicab passenger injured in hit-and-run crash

`20-year-old Emma Kern after a hit-and-run driver struck the pedicab she was riding in Wed March 15, 2017 (Photo: Kern Family)
20-year-old Emma Kern after a hit-and-run driver struck the pedicab she was riding in Wed March 15, 2017 (Photo: Kern Family)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The owner of an Austin pedicab company is concerned Austin police resources investigating hit-and-run collisions around the city’s downtown are insufficient.

“I hope APD is able to lend a hand. Maybe they need more funding for [these type] investigations,” said David Tashnick, owner of Easy Rider Pedicabs, which boasts 110 pedicabs that have roamed Austin’s streets since 2010.

Tashnick‘s comments come the day after a sedan rear-ended one of his pedicabs ferrying a single passenger to a South by Southwest event on South Congress Avenue near Barton Springs Road Wednesday night. The impact was violent enough to throw the pedicab into the air, tossing 20-year-old Emma Kern, a student at St. Edwards Univesity, to the pavement. The girl’s father tells KXAN she suffered facial fractures was released from a local hospital Thursday afternoon.

The pedicab driver is bruised but is expected to be OK. He told Tashnick he did get a glimpse of the sedan: a 2011 blue BMW 5-series sedan or similar. KXAN has requested a copy of the police incident report.

South Austin pedicab crash on South Congress Avenue (KXAN Photo/Jose Torres)
South Austin pedicab crash on South Congress Avenue (KXAN Photo/Jose Torres)

In Austin, pedicab drivers do not have to have traditional insurance to protect paying passengers. Under a 2013 ordinance, they have to comply with a part of the Texas Transportation Code’s Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act that spells out alternative methods of establishing financial responsibility, which includes filing a surety bond with the state in a dollar amount similar to what’s required under a liability insurance policy.

Austin police investigate hit-and-run crashes where no one is hurt and those where someone reports an injury. Then, a simple hit-and-run incident elevates to a failure to stop and render aid – a crime that in 2013 became a 2nd-degree felony in Texas. Someone convicted of hurting someone and taking off can go to prison for up to 20 years, a punishment equal to intoxicated manslaughter.

“Even if you get a license plate, you still need a witness who can put that driver behind the wheel,” APD Sgt. David McDonald said, adding he could use more than three detectives investigating thousands of hit-and-run crashes each year in Austin. Only about 19 percent result in an arrest, police data show [full table below].

In January, a 25-year-old Austin woman was convicted of hitting a pedicab with the SUV she was driving. Police said she was driving the wrong way down a downtown street early in the morning last September. Jordan Taylor Liles was identified after witnesses caught the license plate of the departing vehicle. Liles admitted she hit the pedicab, but kept going because she didn’t think she hit it that hard, according to reports. The pedicab driver suffered a concussion.

Liles is due in Travis County District Court next month, court records show.

Austin Police Department Hit-and-Run Stats

Year Offense Total Cases # of cases cleared by arrest
2012 FTSRA (failure to stop and render aid) 395 89
LTS (leaving the scene) 9,478 277
2013 FTSRA 399 70
LTS 10,072 262
2014 FTSRA 380 70
LTS 10,508 271
2015 FTSRA 460 87
LTS 11,470 283
2016 FTSRA 462 82
LTS 12,918 310

 

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