APD officer injured after being hit by alleged drunk driver on I-35

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Austin police Officer Abel Garza rides on his motorcycle while in uniform. (Photo Courtesy: Sara Rountree)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer is injured after an alleged drunk driver hit him on southbound Interstate 35 in central Austin Sunday morning.

Court documents show it was Officer Abel Garza who was hit, and his daughter confirmed to KXAN that it was her dad who was hurt.

Officer Abel Garza pictured on the right. (Photo Courtesy: Tomas and Christian Garza)

“Abel Garza, my dad, is a City of Austin Police Officer that was hurt by the recklessness of another’s drinking and driving last night,” Sara Rountree wrote in part in a statement to KXAN. “People die from alcohol-impaired driving crashes, one death is too many. My dad could have been one of them.”

The crash happened just after midnight as an officer was working an assignment in the 4400 block of southbound I-35. According to an affidavit, officers had the emergency lights of their motorcycle units activated while they blocked lanes of traffic and workers were moving barricades from the road.

That’s when a driver in a dark-colored vehicle crashed into the back of one of the officer’s motorcycles and continued to drive southbound.

About 10 minutes later, an officer with the University of Texas at Austin Police Department found the vehicle in the 1100 block of E Marin Luther King Jr. Blvd. with damage to the passenger side and a piece of the APD officer’s unit.

They found the driver in the 1400 block of Comal St. and found his address matched the one registered with the vehicle’s license plate.

Jose Hernandez Garcia admitted to police that he was driving the vehicle when the crash happened and that it belonged to his brother, but he didn’t stop when the crash happened because he was scared of being arrested and deported. He is charged with failure to stop and render aid.

Garcia also told police that he drank two “baby-sized” beers and was at a level three on a scale of 0 being totally sober to 10 being falling down drunk.

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol don’t just affect the drunk driver, they affect the victim they hurt/kill, their family and friends, etc. My dad got out of this accident with a broken and fractured hip, this will affect him for the rest of his life, all because one person thought it was okay to drive after drinking.

Sara Rountree

Police shut the interstate down at the location while they investigated.

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