AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police said it has a suspect in custody for a fatal hit-and-run in southwest Austin.
APD said 18-year-old Weston Holtz turned himself in at the Travis County jail Wednesday. The vehicle connected to the crash and belonging to Holtz was found by the Santa Rosa Police Department in California Tuesday.
A warrant was issued for Holtz on Wednesday. At the time of the warrant being issued, Holtz was believed to have caught a flight back to Austin, police said.
On Aug. 17 at 8:35 a.m., police said a car hit Sandra K. Nielsen as she was crossing the street near Way Lane and South Bay Lane. APD said the car didn’t stop and continued to drive north on South Bay Lane.
Nielsen, 70, was taken to the hospital with injuries that threatened her life, according to Austin-Travis County EMS.
She died the next day — the day her daughter said was her parents’ 49th wedding anniversary. Michelle Schmidt said her mother had also just found out she had survived cancer.
“She’s pretty awesome. She was definitely well-liked,” Schmidt told KXAN over the phone. “The biggest thing: she gave all of who she was, all the time. She didn’t do anything unless it was 100%.”
Schmidt also said her parents were walking together the day of the accident, holding hands.
It’s how neighbor Kristyne Blackburn remembers Sandy. She had snapped a picture of the couple on a previous day.
The incident has shaken up the neighborhood, even those who didn’t know Sandy personally.
“That’s hard news to take in,” said Jason Hoekstra, who’s lived in the neighborhood for about four-and-a-half years. He skateboards on the same streets often for exercise and also has kids.
“It’s sad that you know, it happened to Sandy. We just can’t see that anymore. That, you know, could happen to a kid. It can happen to you — could happen to any one of us,” he said.
Hoekstra tries to take precautions when skateboarding.
“I’m putting my hands up and pointing along the way and saying, ‘please, you know, watch out.'” he said.
Alison Kwiecinski knows the feeling. She’s seen cars blow through red lights and stop signs while on her walks.
“So, there’s still a lot of work to be done… for awareness,” she said.
Like Hoekstra, she didn’t know Sandy, either.
“I may have passed Sandy and her husband. I may have passed them. I may have said, ‘good morning,’ before… because everybody does,” she said.
Both want to bring more awareness to road safety and are grateful for at least one gesture of the community to honor Sandy: reminders in the form of signs that have popped up all over the neighborhood.
“I noticed that the traffic is slower today. I think the signs, ‘Slow down for Sandy’ are are helping,” Kwiecinski said.
That’s exactly why neighbor Christine Olson said she started the campaign.
“Hopefully this tragic event will be a catalyst for folks to slow down, stop and look before driving through an intersection,” Olson wrote to KXAN News. “The city needs to do more to reduce speeds and add more crosswalks… around Austin’s residential streets.”
Schmidt said in lieu of flowers, the family is asking supporters to donate to Shepherd of the Hills church. The money will go to their quilt guild, where Sandy made a quilt for every graduating senior.
The money will also go to Butterfly Christian Preschool Ministries, where Schmidt said her mom taught. She also said the preschool is planning to build “Ms. Sandy’s House” in their outdoor learning area.
You can find more information on Sandy’s official obituary here.
This was Austin’s 64th deadly crash this year in which a total of 65 people have died.