Driver failed to yield in deadly crash on SH 71 in Del Valle

A deadly crash on State Highway 71 near Albert Brown Drive shut down westbound traffic on July 14, 2017 (TxDOT Photo)
A deadly crash on State Highway 71 near Albert Brown Drive shut down westbound traffic on July 14, 2017 (TxDOT Photo)

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A woman who failed to yield to the right-of-way at an intersection on State Highway 71 in Del Valle caused a deadly crash Friday afternoon, authorities say.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the two-vehicle crash happened around 1:45 p.m. on SH 71 near Albert Brown Drive. Authorities say a 25-year-old man driving a Dodge Ram was going westbound on SH 71 but when he approached the intersection, the driver of a Chevy Malibu, Phyllis Perales, 79, failed to yield at the crossing.

The report indicates the pickup truck driver tried to avoid Perales’ car but he couldn’t and t-boned her car. Perales’ passenger, Mitchell Perales, 56, died at the scene. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The driver of the pickup truck was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Grant Smith lives in the neighborhood just off of that intersection and says this crash highlights the larger problem of traffic that is going increasingly fast at the exact spot neighborhood residents are trying to exit their community. He explained that families in the area exit the neighborhood through a crossover off of SH 71, waiting at the intersection until the traffic traveling at around 80 miles an hour slows down enough for them to get on the highway.

Smith has seen a few other crashes in the same location, including one last week, and he’s only lived in the area for a year. He says a blind hill near that crossover catches drivers off guard if they’re not familiar with the area.

“There needs to be some type of warning light, or a yield there, something that slows traffic down because you have seconds to react [to the intersection],” Smith said.

Smith said he is even worried about his kids–who are in their 20s–driving to visit him, he still urges them to drive with extreme caution at that intersection. He plans on taking action in his neighborhood to call for changes at this section of the highway.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation said they couldn’t comment yet on the intersection where the crash happened, they needed more time to speak to their employees who work at that intersection about what they’ve seen there. In general, the spokesperson explained, TxDOT is constantly looking at crash data for patterns–both short term and long term–to decide whether changes are necessary for any given area.

According to data available through TxDOT’s search data base, there have been around 30 crashes in the areas where Albert Brown Drive meets SH 71 between 2014 and 2017, with only a couple of those crashes being fatal.

 

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