Austin driver arrested in connection with road rage case that left man dead

Austin Police lights

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man was arrested Wednesday in connection to a road rage incident that left another man dead on South Pleasant Valley Road over the weekend, according to Austin police.

According to APD, Eric Walz was found lying unresponsive and bleeding next to his vehicle at around 10:42 a.m. Saturday. He was transported to a local hospital and was declared brain dead at 7:02 a.m. Sunday.

A witness told police they saw Walz in his Mazda being harassed by the driver of a brown vehicle and the two were speeding along William Cannon Drive and Interstate 35. The witness said they believed Walz tried to distance his Mazda from the other vehicle. 

On Pleasant Valley Road the witness told police they saw Walz get out of his car and approach the brown car which backed up. Walz then got back in his car and continued driving. According to the witness, Walz stopped a second time and approached the brown car. At that point, the driver of the brown car allegedly accelerated and hit Walz, carrying him for a few feet before driving off down Pleasant Valley Road.

Surveillance footage from the nearby La Moreliana market matched the witness account. 

The footage showed Walz stopping his car in the right lane at the 5300 block of Pleasant Valley Road, police wrote in a document filed in court. The video showed the brown car driving into Walz which sent him onto the hood through the air and onto the ground. 

The brown car was described by police as having a boxy shape, a sloping rear window, overhanging roof material and white rear lights. After hours of reviewing the surveillance footage, they determined the car was a Scion XB. 

Police discovered there was only one brown Scion XB in the Travis County vehicle registry and it belonged to 35-year-old Kevin James Derks. The Scion was involved in more than five road rage or reckless driving incidents since July 2017.

Police made found Derks, he allegedly told him no one else had driven his Scion XB in the two years since he’d bought it.

Derks told police on Saturday, he was driving his son to Kenny’s Collectibles to look at Hot Wheels. At the light on William Cannon Drive and Pleasant Valley Road he told police he cut over to the far left lane and Walz, in the car behind him, began honking. 

Derks said he and Walz drove down Pleasant Valley Road and at the light on Stassney Lane Walz sped past, got out of the car, and ran and jumped onto the hood of the Scion. Derks said he drove forward at 10 to 15 miles per hour and Walz fell of his hood. He said he then drove away since he feared for his life.

“He literally jumped on my car. His shoes were on top of my car. He literally stood on top of the car,” Derks told officers during his interrogation. 

Derks testimony didn’t match up with the witness account or the surveillance footage, which police say showed Walz bracing himself as the car drove towards him. 

Police arrested Derks on charges of failure to stop and render aid as well as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond is set at $100,000.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Derks had five previous charges of reckless driving against him. This was misstated and changed to reflect that Derks had no previous charges against him but there were incidents.

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