Teen drives into Lady Bird Lake ends up in jail

Yellow police tape drew the attention of people walking on the north shore hike and bike trial Thursday morning.  Also hard to ignore were the tire tracks from a small SUV that had plunged into Lady Bird Lake Wednesday night. James Morneau was among those who rushed to the edge of the 20 foot drop-off moments after the vehicle went in.

"And you could see the tail lights of a car, underwater, slowly sinking away. That’s alI that I actually saw, but it apparently started over here, some bricks were knocked out at the entry of the Windsor and apparently the car came right through here and how she didn’t hit a tree is beyond me,” said Morneau.

19-year-old Anna Julia Arocha survived her dive into the lake, but was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

"Luckily a witness apparently had pulled her out of the vehicle,” said APD spokesman Officer Ivan Ramos.

Arocha's bond was set at $4,000. Her DWI charge is a misdemeanor and not a felony because it’s a first time offense.

In September of 2014 a similar incident happened just downstream and claimed the life of the driver. Two years earlier,  a police dash camera captured the moment a car with 3 people inside splashed into the lake.
One of the passengers drowned. The driver, Madeline Rackley, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 10 years probation as part of a plea deal.

These types of incidents continue to happen despite the Austin Police Department's efforts to crack down on drunk driving. The latest effort is already underway with a Holiday No Refusal time period.

"We're very serious and that’s why we have an extended period for no refusal,” said Ramos.

The campaign started December 15 and will last until 5:00 in the morning New Year’s Day.  The number of arrests made so far was not available. During last year's Christmas/New Year’s enforcement period, 229 DWI arrests were made.  A little more than half of those who were caught refused to provide breath or blood samples without a warrant.

"So many people out there think they can drive back, because they are worried about leaving their vehicle behind. And they just get behind the wheel when they are intoxicated,” said Ramos.

A bad decision that can result in a trip to jail or a potentially deadly stop.
 

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