Austin firefighter fired after off-duty crash on Halloween night

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A car crash in the early morning hours after Halloween led to an Austin firefighter losing his job. On Friday, Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr placed Firefighter Oel Leon on indefinite suspension, effectively firing him.

A March 2 memo from Chief Kerr to the city’s Director of Civil Service details the grounds for Leon’s suspension. The memo says Leon violated the department’s code of conduct by being intoxicated off duty and failing to give true statements at administrative investigations.

According to the memo, Leon met a group friends at a bar on Oct. 31 and had several drinks. At around 1:30 a.m., the vehicle Leon was driving hit a utility trailer that was parked on the curb of United Kingdom Drive. The memo says a resident who heard the crash and called 911 saw Leon try to drive away, but the vehicle was too damaged to drive. The resident then saw Leon run from the scene, leaving the wrecked vehicle behind.

When police arrived at the scene, they linked the wrecked vehicle to Leon. When an AFD Battalion Chief called Leon to find out where he was, Leon told him he had driven home. The battalion chief told Leon he was standing next to his wrecked vehicle and asked him again how he got home. Leon again said that he had driven home.

According to the memo, Leon was not charged for driving while intoxicated because of the time lapse between the collision and the arrest and “it was not known if Leon consumed any more alcohol after arriving home.”

The memo states that investigators with the Professional Standards Office believed that Leon was not telling the truth about the events leading up to the crash. The evidence led Chief Kerr to place Leon on indefinite suspension.

“In considering the discipline, not only does the evidence support the conclusion that FF Leon was driving while intoxicated, he fled the scene of an accident and then lied to a [battalion chief] regarding his actions and to the [Professional Standards Office] during its investigation,” Kerr wrote in the memo.

Leon does have the ability to appeal the decision to the Civil Service Commission.

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