AUSTIN (KXAN) — At 6:50 p.m. on Sept. 13, police said a 911 call came in about a head-on crash just south of Zilker Park and Barton Springs. By the time officers got there at 9:55 p.m., everyone was gone, and the department said it could not take a report.
Murphy McCollough’s sister was in the sedan, pictured to the right.
“I’ll never forget the fear in my sister’s voice after she got hit,” McCollough posted on social media.
KXAN spoke with her Wednesday about the crash.
“We got to the scene, saw what it looked like, which was terrifying,” McCollough said.
She said she was on the phone with her sister as the crash happened.
“She was speaking really clearly, then all of a sudden she sounded really muffled and I could hear a crash, like a crunching sound.”
‘Unfortunate series of events’
“On the day and timeframe this incident occurred, the officers in Southwest Austin responded to numerous calls prioritized as higher emergencies,” the Austin Police Department said. “This unfortunate series of events and the staffing crisis at APD led to a delay in our ability to respond promptly to other urgent situations.”
Police said the call was originally put into the system as a Crash Urgent call, which is a Priority 2 call. The system classifies calls as Priority 0 – Priority 4, with “0” being the most urgent. APD said the call was downgraded to a lower-level priority around 7:40 p.m. The call was upgraded again to a Crash Urgent call when the department received more information.
The crash happened, according to police, on the corner of Azie Morton Road and Barton Hills Drive.
KXAN searched through incident reports to find other calls police worked nearby during the timeframe of the crash, and found a report that involved a vehicle pursuit and aggravated assault within an hour of when this crash was reported. APD said other examples of calls officers responded to at the time included calls for shots fired, aggravated assault and suspicious persons.
The department said it currently has 319 vacancies and is working diligently to hire more officers.
“We remain committed to improving our staffing levels and response times to serve our community better,” APD said in a statement. “With a reallocation of resources to Patrol, backfilling shifts with Detectives, and offering a 15k hiring bonus, the Austin Police Department is actively working to increase our Patrol staffing levels to ensure we have resources available to handle calls. We remain committed to improving our staffing levels and response times to serve our community better.”
Below are updated numbers on APD’s average response times from Aug. 1 through Sept. 27.