AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man accused of hitting a cyclist in Georgetown before driving off pleaded guilty to manslaughter and accident involving death, according to his attorney.
Thomas “Tommy” Ketterhagen, 19, was last seen riding his bicycle Jan. 23, 2017. When he didn’t return home, his family reported him missing. His mother found his body the next morning on Patriot Way near State Highway 130.
Ketterhagen’s family was in the courtroom Wednesday when 21-year-old Aaron Davison pleaded guilty. His father says the assistant district attorney asked Davison questions about events leading up to the moment he hit Ketterhagen.
“[They asked], ‘Do you agree that you were speeding on 130?’ He said yes, and ‘do you agree you were driving recklessly?’ recalled Tom Ketterhagen, the victim’s father. “All that was particularly hard.”
Even so, Ketterhagen’s father says it was the first time he heard Davison take ownership. “You know there’s some closure there to hear the guilty plea, I mean the first things we heard was that he dropped his cellphone and it was a complete accident, of course. I don’t think anyone really believed that.”
Davison turned himself into police three days after he hit the cyclist. His attorney said at the time he dropped his phone while driving and reached to pick it up. He said he thought he hit something, but didn’t see anything when he got out of his truck to look around, so he drove off.
Davison also wrote a letter to police admitting to driving the truck. “Mr. Davison also wrote that once he became aware that a bicyclist was killed on the same road, he realized he was likely responsible for the death of the person,” said Georgetown police spokesperson Roland Waits at the time.
Ketterhagen says Davison’s guilty plea means a lot to his family.
“I often wonder what you think, if Tommy would’ve forgiven Aaron?” the father asked his 12-year-old son.
“I think he does. It’s kind of difficult to think what [Davison] did but I think it’s easy to forgive him in a way,” said Brendan Ketterhagen.
The plea deal means Davison would serve two years for manslaughter and 10 years probation for accident involving death, but the judge still must make a final decision on March 6.
Davison’s attorney says there was a lot of evidence in this case and a lot of back and forth with the district attorney’s office to come to this plea agreement, which is why the plea took a year.
Because of the crash that took Ketterhagen’s life, Georgetown is developing a bicycle safety plan. Last summer, Tom Ketterhagen and members of his “787 Racing” team pushed the city council to begin a study to determine where better signage and bike lanes are needed.
The city has set aside $44,000 and is studying the area now. Work should begin this summer.
On Saturday, Jan. 27, the “787 Racing” team will ride from Mellow Johnny’s in Austin to Tommy’s memorial site in the 2300 block of Patriot Way in Georgetown. The group will leave Austin around 8:30 a.m. and get to Georgetown around 10:30 a.m. for refreshments.