Authorities identify bodies found in ditch in Southeast Austin

Two people found dead in a ditch in Southeast Travis County on Sunday have been identified. Police said they were killed in a hit-and-run. Now, the search is on for the driver who hit them.

There is still no answer as to how long the bodies were in the ditch before being found. Residents we spoke with say Friday night there was a lot going.

Residents who live off FM 812 say on the weekends, this area can become very dangerous. The Coliseum Event Center brings in a lot of traffic. 

"I've gone down just to see for myself. You've got cars parked all over the place, all the way to the corner. You've got people walking on this side too. You go down and you've got some of the houses there that charge people to park," said a Southeast Austin resident.

Travis County Sheriff's Deputies were called out Sunday morning to FM 812, just east of Hwy 183. Someone walking came across two bodies in a ditch. They have been identified as 39-year-old Maria Ramirez from Austin and 36-year-old Luis Bonilla-Gutierrez from Smithville. Jose Lira says a friend told him what happened.

"She told me, we see the bodies down the highway, you know, to the street. So I mean, it's kind of scary because we try to live here," said Jose Lira, lives nearby.

Deputies first thought the two may have been flood victims. Later they determined it was a hit-and-run because road rash was found on their bodies. The impact reportedly threw them into the ditch.

"There's absolutely no place for people to walk on either side because on each side you've got the ditch, the slope, that goes to the drainage. So there's nowhere to go. I mean, you've got to walk right on the edge of where the traffic is at," said Southeast Austin resident.

DPS has now taken over the investigation. They are questioning neighbors and looking at surveillance video to try and understand what happened. A $1000 reward is being offered to anyone with information.

"I think that's what our issue is - a lot of people don't want to get involved but yet look at this. If somebody saw something, who's not to say that some lives could have been saved," says Southeast Austin resident.

Residents say something needs to be done to make the area safer; whether it's more lighting, stop signs or lowering the speed limit.

"You've got those stragglers that come racing through. That's all it takes, one car not paying attention," says Southeast Austin resident.

If you have any information about the vehicle or the two victims, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 512 472-TIPS.

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