A Round Rock police officer is in the hospital after being struck by a car while responding to a crash where a person reportedly was hit and killed earlier Sunday morning.
Round Rock police said the 18-year veteran, Charles Whites, remains in serious condition.
According to police, officers responded to a call about a person walking near Interstate 35. When officers arrived on scene they found the person dead near Old Settlers Boulevard. The deceased person was later identified as 25-year-old Amir Azad.
Shortly after, authorities shut down lanes of northbound Interstate 35. However, things took a turn when Officer Whites, who was directing traffic during the investigation, was struck by a car near Palm Valley Boulevard. Whites was quickly taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition.
Investigators took several hours to investigate the two collisions causing miles of traffic congestion.
Also during the investigation Round Rock police reported that lightning struck the area where two Round Rock Police officers and one law enforcement support technician were investigating. As a precaution all three people were transported to the hospital but later released.
Some commuters ended up taking a detour to avoid the traffic jam.
“We decided to pull over and grab something to eat and hopefully it would have been gone by the time we hit the road again,” said Lance Blakley.
Blakley was on his way out of town when he got stuck in gridlock for several hours on Interstate 35 heading to Dallas.
“I feel frustration. It was difficult at times because everybody is very frustrated and trying to get going but at the same time it is what it is,” said Blakley.
However after seeing all the traffic backed up for miles Blakley says he knew the situation was serious.
“As far as you can see cars forward and backwards it was very intense,” said Blakley. “At the same time we understand that accidents happen and we just pray that everybody involved is doing ok. Somebody is having a much worse day then we are.”
As for the police officer who was injured the Round Rock Police Department posted on Facebook asking for the community’s support.
“We are asking that everyone that reads this please share it with as many people as possible or post on your own feed. A Round Rock Police Officer has been seriously injured in an accident this morning. Please be in prayer him, his family, and all of the Round Rock Officers. Thank you.”
Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley also tweeted out reminding commuters of the importance of the “move over slow down” law in Texas and also asking for support for the injured officer.
The driver who struck and killed Azad has not yet been identified. Police are asking the public to contact them at 512-218-5515 if they have any information.
However, the 65-year-old driver who hit Officer Whites was being held and questioned.