Woman charged in deadly I-35 crash ‘lost use of faculties’ due to alcohol/marijuana, police say

Crime

Amber Thompson (APD)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An arrest affidavit released Wednesday for the woman charged in connection with a deadly Sunday night crash on I-35 in Austin revealed alcohol and marijuana allegedly impaired her driving.

Amber Thompson, 39, was charged with intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the crash which killed a motorcyclist. The arrest affidavit identifies the victim as Jessica Sears.

Austin police were called out to the crash in the 6800 block of South Interstate 35 around 11:14 p.m. on Sunday, the affidavit said. When they arrived, officers learned a motorcyclist, identified as Sears, was pronounced dead on scene.

The driver of a black Dodge pickup truck, identified as Thompson, was approached by officers on scene. The affidavit said Thompson allegedly slurred her words and asked for a lighter. Her eyes reportedly appeared “glassy, bloodshot and watery.”

The affidavit said officers with APD’s DWI unit were called over to evaluate Thompson. She reportedly smelled of alcohol, and police conducted a few standardized field sobriety tests.

Thompson continued to slur her words, swayed and had mood swings on scene, according to the affidavit. She allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the night.

Based on the field tests, the affidavit said officers determined she “lost the normal use of her physical and mental faculties necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle by the introduction of alcohol and marijuana into her body.”

How the crash may have happened

Roadway evidence showed Thompson’s truck hit the Slaughter Lane off-ramp rail, then ricocheted back into the southbound lanes where Sears was riding her motorcycle, according to the affidavit. The two collided, and Sears was thrown from her bike.

At the time, Austin police reported a total of six vehicles were involved in the crash. An Austin-Travis County EMS tweet said one of those vehicles was a semi-truck.

Remembering Jessica

A memorial was set up for Sears at the H‑E‑B entrance off South I-35 Frontage Road. The display includes flowers, candles and motorcycle signs.

A few organizations and businesses on social media also honored her memory by sharing a little about who she was in posts.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help Sears’ family with funeral expenses. So far, it’s raised more than $2,600.

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