AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin’s Transportation Department is making immediate changes to an intersection where a 14-year-old boy was hit and killed in northwest Austin earlier this month.
Police say Alexei Baureis was walking his bicycle through a crosswalk at Rustic Rock Drive and Spicewood Springs Road around 10:15 p.m. when he was hit by a driver traveling eastbound on Spicewood Springs Road. Walk Austin, a coalition of community advocates, say part of the issue was the flashing yellow lights at the intersection where Baureis was killed. When lights flash yellow it means the pedestrian has the right of way and drivers must yield.
“Drivers do not always yield the right of way, and it is imperative that we provide safe crossing opportunities for our most vulnerable populations during the most dangerous hours of the day on our most dangerous roadways,” stated Walk Austin in a letter sent to the city.
In response, the director of the Transportation Department said they have recently shortened the timespan as to when the flashing yellow light is used at Spicewood Springs Road and Rustic Rock Drive. Instead of starting at 9 p.m., the flashing yellow lights will now start at 11 p.m. and run until 6 a.m.
The city goes on to say the flashing light program is “temporary” and was only put into place because less than 50 percent of city’s signal detection devices are actually working properly. The signal detection equipment indicates when a vehicle is at the light and requests a green light. The city says it phases out flashing lights as a signal detection is repaired.
“I think the death of a youth in Austin signals that it’s something that’s really urgent, that we need to fix it quickly,” Robert Anderson, Founder of Walk Austin says.
The city is also exploring modifying signals that currently are on flash to go all-way red when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button.
Alexei’s parents just want change to prevent another life from being lost.
“In order to have a safe community, we need to have proper equipment, we need to obey the rules, and if any of those things were broken and then there needs to be consequences for that,” Alexei’s mom said.
Alexei Bauereis’ Life
Alexei was an up and coming ballet dancer whose parents say was driven and passionate about the art.
“When he was 8, I said, ‘You have to talk to me, what’s this dance thing about?’ and he said, ‘you know mom, when I hear the music, I just feel my body move,'” Anna Bauereris says about her son Alexei.
He danced locally with Ballet Austin and other schools in the Killeen area.
“He was committed to dance, and he really wanted to be a classical ballet dancer,” Eric Bauereris says of his son.
Despite his drive, his parents say he struggled with bullying from people who did not appreciate his love for the art of dancing.
“It broke my heart to hear how he had these massive dreams and they were starting to shrink because of what other people were saying,” Anna says.
“There are other boys like him who want to participate, want to dance and they’re fighting it whether it be bullying or discouraging comments or really nasty stuff,” Eric said.
Now, they hope a new memorial fund they’ve set up will help other young men like their son achieve their dreams of dancing without facing bullying and ridicule.
“It was a privilege to be his parents, we were absolutely blessed, he was an amazing kid,” Eric says.