Nearly two years after Courtney Griffin was killed in a …
Nearly two years after Courtney Griffin was killed in a …
The Texas Senate has toughened the punishment for leaving an …
Breathalyzers are becoming a much more popular method in the …
Gabrielle Nestande will serve 180 days in jail in the May 2011 …
Families who've experienced hit and run accidents first hand …
Updated: Friday, 07 Sep 2012, 4:38 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 01 Jun 2011, 2:01 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police said alcohol is suspected in the deadly hit-and-run that killed 30-year-old Courtney Griffin, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has even gotten involved.
Three days after the accident, friends and family gathered on Memorial Day to remember Griffin at the spot where she died on Exposition Boulevard.
Authorities arrested state legislative aide Gabrielle Jane Nestande, 23, Friday following questioning at her Capitol workplace and later charged her with failure to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony.
TABC Lt. Jimmy Zuehlke said they are investigating the hit-and-run accident with the Austin Police Department. Still, Zuehlke said they could not elaborate on what they are looking into and didn't give any other details.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Austin Police Department Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives at 512-974-8226. This case remains under investigation.
This is the 20th traffic death of this year, while there were 18 at this time in 2010.
According to an arrest affidavit, Griffin’s neighbor called 911 after discovering her body around 5:13 a.m. Friday. The neighbor told dispatchers she was not breathing and was bleeding.
When emergency responders arrived they found Griffin dead, with obvious head and body trauma. Investigators determined Griffin was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle and killed. A broken headlight lens piece was found near the west curb of the roadway.
Police said Griffin’s shoes were found near the roadway and her body was thrown through a large bush before landing in the driveway. In the early stages of the investigation police said there were no witnesses and no identifying information on the vehicle that struck Griffin.
Police said an anonymous phone call shortly after 9:00 a.m. about a suspicious vehicle located at 3018 Windsor is what led authorities to Nestande. The caller said after reading about the early morning hit and run, they believed the black BMW with its “windshield crushed in” might be involved.
Police said the BMW, registered to Nestande, had damage to the front right quarter panel, bumper, windshield and passenger side mirror, consistent with an auto/pedestrian fatality crash. Investigators also found pieces of clothing and skin tissue in the cracks of the windshield.
After questioning the resident who lives where the car was found, police were told Nestande took his car to work that morning. Nestande told the man someone had thrown something at her windshield.
Police went to Nestande’s workplace to question her about the damage and the accident. According to the arrest affidavit Nestande admitted she was the only driver of the vehicle “being involved in an accident, being scared and not knowing what to do.” When detectives pushed Nestande for more information she asked for a lawyer.
Nestande has been released from the Travis County Jail under a $35,000 bond.
Nestande family has political ties in California
Gabrielle Nestande works in Rep. Wayne Christian's office (R-Texas). Austin Police told KXAN she is the half-sister of California State Rep. Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert). Police said she is also the daughter of Bruce Nestande, a prominent California politician, who is the father of Brian Nestande.
According to the L.A. times her father, Bruce Nestande, was sentenced in 2007 to six months in jail and three years' probation in connection with a drunk-driving accident in 2006.
The then 69-year-old former politician pled guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit-and-run, as well as filing a fraudulent insurance claim, a felony. Under a plea agreement, the felony charge was dropped after he completes his confinement and probation.
Tributes to Griffin
"She was such a big part of the Tarrytown community," said Jennifer Currie, manager of Tarrytown's Austin Pets Alive. "She was a member of so many families in the Tarrytown community so they're definitely feeling the loss," she said.
In fact that sadness has led to touching tributes.
"Our 10 year old volunteer Dorothy was so upset obviously at the terrible accident that happened, Dorothy was our inspiration for naming our meet and greet room Griffin's meeting room," said Currie.
Now families wanting to adopt and care for animals the way Griffin did--will meet their new pets in a room named after the woman who loved animals so much.
"We just wanted to do something to honor her memory," said Currie.
"She's clearly someone who felt a responsibility to help animals and help other people," said Rob Hill, Executive Director of Team Spiridon.
Team Spiridon is a running group that plans a run Thursday night to raise money for Austin Pets Alive--it was already scheduled but is now in honor of Griffin and her work.
"If you run much in Austin you see some really good behavior and some really bad behavior from runners and from drivers, so when this happened it also reminds us we've got a real responsibility
that at the minimum we've got a real responsibility to give all our attention to driving," said Hill.
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