AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police on Friday arrested a 23-year-old aide to a state lawmaker in the hit-and-run crash in West Austin that left one woman dead.
Authorities said Gabrielle Jane Nestande faces third-degree felony charges of failure to stop and render aid to the victim of the crash that happened in the 1600 block of Exposition Boulevard.
Nestande works in Rep. Wayne Christian's office. Nestande had been given a commendation on Thursday for her work at the Capitol. Last year, she was a volunteer in Gov. Rick Perry's re-election effort.
The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office said late Friday the victim's name is Courtney Paige Griffin, 30. She lived in the 2800 block of Enfield Road.
"She was a really good, friendly person. A great little girl," said David Parks, who manages the property where Griffin lived.
Parks said he was most disturbed that the driver did not stop to help Griffin.
"She could have stopped - called 911 - they didn't find her (Courtney) for a little while, see- and she might have been alive - so, that's what bothers me," said Parks.
Christian, an East Texas Republican, released a statement saying he and his staff were cooperating with authorities.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all parties involved," the statement said.
Police were called after a neighbor who was taking out trash at 5:15 a.m. found the Griffin's body near the shoulder of Exposition Boulevard, near the intersection with Enfield Road . Austin Police Department Victim Services officials talked to the neighbor.
It was unclear if Griffin was running or walking, though she was not dressed like she was exercising. Police said she had identification on her.
Police had a section of Exposition Boulevard cordoned off with crime scene tape as they collected evidence Friday morning that included parts of a vehicle and clothing.
Before the arrest was made, police said they were attempting to locate any witnesses and searching the area for information regarding the incident.
Police said Friday afternoon they located Nestande via a tip that came in at 9 a.m. from someone who heard news reports about the incident. The person told police about a damaged black BMW in a driveway in a home on Windsor Road. The owner of the car was already at work, as she had someone else take her to work, police said, and that damage to the car matched the crime.
Police also said the hit-and-run happened when the suspect was on her way home, but they did not release details. They will not say if alcohol was involved.
Records show Gabrielle Nestande graduated from Baylor University.
A friend of the Griffin family, who asked to remain anonymous, said Griffin has been a nanny for a number of families and worked in various animal shelters. She was not married.
KXAN looked into Nastende's background and found that she comes from a very active political family.
Her father, Bruce Nestande, was a former Orange County Supervisor and California Assemblyman who served six months in jail and three years probation connected to a drunk-driving accident in 2006.
Bruce Nestande pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit-and-run, as well as filing a fraudulent insurance claim.
Under the plea agreement, that felony insurance fraud charge would be dropped after he completed the jail time and probation.
And Gabrielle's half-brothers - Brian and Barry Nestande - have both been involved in politics.
Barry served as Chief of Staff to former U.S. Senator John Benoit, but died of a heart attack in March of last year.
Brian is a current California Assemblyman.
Gabrielle's sister - Francesca - is a student at the University of Southern California.
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