15% increase in pedestrian deaths in 2021

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A pedestrian died after being hit by a car late last night on Research Boulevard in North Austin. It happened around 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of Payton Gin Road.

Crashes like this are happening more often, according to the Texas DOT. Last August, tragedy struck the Circle C neighborhood in southwest Austin.

Sandra K. Nielsen and her husband were out for a walk on August 17 when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street.

“They used to walk down our street every day. And it’s so sad. We’ve known them for 18 years,” said Kathy Dougherty, Nielsen’s friend.

Neighbors said some drivers slowed down shortly after the crash, but still noticed reckless driving.

“As a pedestrian, I have to be really careful because I just don’t trust drivers anymore,” said Christine Blackburn, another friend of Nielsen’s.

According to TxDOT, pedestrian fatalities increased by 15% in 2021. There were 435 pedestrian-involved traffic accidents in Austin. 61 of them were fatal.

It’s a number Nielsen’s neighborhood hopes to take down with signs in her honor.

enter circle C neighborhood which says delay for sandy
Neighbors say proceeds from the purchase of a “Slow down for Sandy” sign go directly to Nielsen’s family. (KXAN Photos/Sarah Al-Shaikh)

“Slow down if you ever hit someone. Come out and help them. You’re going to be scared, help them,” said John Blackburn, another of Nielsen’s friends.

Weston Holtz, 18, is charged in connection with the hit-and-run with one count of accident involving death, a second-degree felony. He turned himself in at the Travis County Jail two weeks after the crash, according to the Austin Police Department.

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