911 caller says police were slow to respond to dangerous, drowsy driving

KXAN viewer, Luis Chavez, Jr. filmed his interaction with what's believed to have been a drowsy driver early Friday morning on Highway 183.
KXAN viewer, Luis Chavez, Jr. filmed his interaction with what's believed to have been a drowsy driver early Friday morning on Highway 183. (Courtesy/Luis Chavez, Jr.)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The man who recorded another man driving dangerously early Friday morning tells KXAN he’s concerned about the Austin Police Department’s response to his calls to 911 dispatch.

Luiz Chavez, Jr. called 911 twice Friday between 5:30 and 6 a.m. to report a vehicle swerving in and out of its lane on US 183, traveling northbound. Chavez says it took APD nearly 20 minutes to respond to the incident.

“They said they’d be on their way and I continued to follow him,” said Chavez, recounting what happened after he called 911 the first time that morning. “Once I hung up, I just kind of stood behind him in case anything happened because he was swerving left and right onto the lanes.”

Chavez told 911 that he believed the driver in front of him may be intoxicated or possibly driving drowsy. Chavez used his cell phone, mounted on his vehicle’s dashboard, to record the vehicle in front of him for evidence, fearing the driver could cause an accident.

“I’m used to being up early. I’m more alert at that time. Most other people, if they’re not paying attention, that’s how accidents happen,” he said.

Chavez continued following the vehicle in front of his until they came to a stop at the traffic light at US 183 and Loyola Lane. That’s when Chavez says the driver fell asleep behind the wheel; the vehicle in drive and the driver’s foot on the brake.

That’s when Chavez called 911 again. “I was just waiting for the cops to get there, like, how long is this gonna take, guys? I already called the first time. I figured there would have been somebody en route on 183 north,” said Chavez.

He parked behind the vehicle and turned on his hazard lights in order to prevent the vehicle from being hit. “If I can avoid an accident, help avoid an accident, then that’s what I want to do.”

About 13 minutes after the vehicles stopped at the intersection, police arrived on scene. “My concern was not to get the guy in trouble. It was more to get him off the road, get him safe, and then of course, let the police do what they need to do,” he added.

Chavez says APD’s response isn’t good enough.

“They didn’t show up with their lights on at all. So, how is there an emergency…? When I see lights, I move over to the side. They just showed up,” Chavez said. “[I just want] more accountability. If we’re making a phone call, it’s for a reason.”

KXAN learned the driver was detained to undergo a DWI investigation, but then released without being arrested after he showed no obvious signs of intoxication.

Austin police were unavailable Monday for an on-camera interview. They did tell us officers were asked to respond to a “check welfare” call for this incident, not a DWI.

It’s unclear whether police tested the driver’s blood or if he was allowed to keep driving after the stop. KXAN is still waiting for that information and for APD to explain its protocol for officers responding to calls like this.

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