AUSTIN (KXAN) - After seven months of investigation, the Austin police just might have an answer to a hit-and-run crash.
On July 14, an unidentified driver hit bicyclist James Collins around 1 a.m. at 1100 block of Lavaca Street. The suspect vehicle never stopped nor returned to the scene.
Collins was rushed to the emergency room for treatment of injuries after he was thrown from his bicycle.
The only evidence found was the right-side mirror from the suspect vehicle, which broke off during the crash.
By identifying the model of the detached mirror and tracking who had purchased one since the accident, Texas DPS Criminal Investigations Division identified the suspected vehicle's license plate as well as its owner.
Investigators also found Caliber Collision had done repair work on a certain vehicle's mirror. Damages on that car matched those that could have happened at the time of the collision with Collins and his bike.
Police interviewed the owner of the vehicle and learned that her nephew, Gabriel Gracia, had borrowed her car on the night of the accident.
Gracia told the DPS investigator he was driving home from downtown around the time of the accident, according to the affidavit. Gracia said he was the only driver that night, but did not specifically remember driving home because he was allegedly intoxicated. The next morning, when he saw the car's damage, he had wondered what he had hit, he told police.
He is charged with failure to stop and render aid, a state jail felony. He is also accused of defrauding his insurer, State Farm County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas, who paid more than $1,500 for the damages to the vehicle. Gracia is said to have provided false information by fabricating facts and details about the night of the accident.
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