AUSTIN (KXAN) ⁠— A man was taken into custody in connection with a deadly weekend crash in south Austin that police said involved a child.

The Austin Police Department said Xavier Zarate, 41, was charged with injury to a child. Neighbors told KXAN the incident happened near the entrance to the Olympic Heights neighborhood, along Marcus Abrams Boulevard.

Xavier Zarate. (APD photo)
Xavier Zarate. (APD photo)

Police said officers responded to a call of a deadly collision near the 11300 block of Menchaca Road around 5:40 p.m. Sunday.

According to an arrest affidavit, a witness told police Zarate drove down the street to confront the teenage boys who “supposedly” threw excrement at his front door.

The witness said in the affidavit that Zarate drove up behind the boys, who were on bicycles, left his vehicle, and “immediately” began punching the teens.

The affidavit said the witness went to try to break up the fight when he saw Zarate’s car rolling forward. The SUV continued forward and rolled/ran over one of the teens and his bicycle, the witness told police.

Jody Carpenter said he’s friends with the victim and was there when the collision happened.

“He chased us in his car down to here, opened the door in front of [him] so he couldn’t ride off on his bike, then punched him in the face,” said Carpenter. “I hit [Zarate] on the back of the head. He pushed [him] down and then the car ran over his head.”

Carpenter said the victim was in eighth grade at Bailey Middle School. We know Bailey’s principal sent a letter home to parents this week addressing the “sudden” death of a student. Neither police nor the school district named the victim, because he is a minor, but his family identified him to KXAN as 13-year-old Brett Cardenas.

  • Brett Cardenas, an eighth grader at Bailey Middle School, died Sunday after a traffic incident in the Olympic Heights neighborhood.
  • Flowers left in memory of the child in the Olympic Heights neighborhood (KXAN Photo/Juan Salinas)

“He was really smart, a kind kid. Always knew how to make someone laugh,” said Carpenter.

The affidavit said the teen was taken to a south Austin hospital where he died from his injuries around 6:04 p.m. Sunday.

Those wishing to donate toward funeral expenses for Cardenas can Venmo @InlovingmemoryBrett. There is a candlelight vigil scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The witness said the SUV continued rolling down the street. Police believe the SUV wasn’t placed in Park, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, police believe Zarate’s 4-year-old child was inside the SUV at the time of the incident.

As of Tuesday morning, Zarate remained locked up with no bond set, according to Travis County records.

Tuesday afternoon, the City of Austin confirmed Zarate is a city employee. A spokesperson would not name his position, but according to Zarate’s LinkedIn page, he’s the division manager of the Small Business Division.

In an email, the city said: “As a fair chance employer, the City does not monitor the criminal charges or arrests of all employees and does not have a protocol for when employees are charged with a crime. City policy requires certain employees, like CDL holders or employees whose jobs require a criminal background check, to self-report arrests to the City, since that may impact their ability to perform their job.”

KXAN has reached out to an attorney for Zarate. We will update this story with a response.