Couple waits 2.5 hours for APD to respond to head-on crash caused by alleged drunk driver
AUSTIN, Texas - A local couple involved in a head-on car crash is angry. They said it took Austin police about two and half hours to show up.
On Saturday, March 18, around 4 p.m., the Purciful family was involved in a car crash in front of Manuel’s on Jollyville Road in North Austin.
"He cut across two lanes of traffic and hit us head on," Dustin Purciful said.
"If one of us didn’t happen to have our seatbelt on, I would not be here," Lacey Purciful said.
They immediately called 911 about five times. While they were waiting for the police to show up, they checked on the other driver.
"When I asked him like what were you doing, he was like ‘I was just leaving a bar’," Dustin Purciful said.
"The woman on the bus that was right there had gone over to his car, and immediately she starts telling me that he reeks of alcohol, and he’s been drinking," Lacey Purciful said.
Time passed, and still no police officers had arrived.
"This man is trying to leave, his friend here, they are moving his car, towing his car, and no cops in sight to come give this man a breathalyzer," Lacey Purciful said.
After about two and half hours of waiting, officers with the Austin Police Department showed up.
"When the female officer arrived on the scene, she told me that, she apologized, but there were only five officers on duty right now for the city," Lacey Purciful said.
"Even 911 told me flat out there are just not enough police officers to respond," Dustin Purciful said.
Once there, the officers started a field sobriety test on the other driver. The driver passed and wasn’t arrested.
"I feel like I’m in the twilight zone, like is this real?" Lacey Purciful said.
The Purcifuls have hired a lawyer. They’re suing the other driver who they believe was drunk and caused the crash. They said the delayed response impacted their case.
"I think a two-and-a-half-hour delay in getting to a scene allows someone who is drunk to sober up a lot. It allows someone to get their story together, make phone calls, kind of figure out what they're going to say, and so I think if it was a regular response time, it would have been very different. I think he would have been arrested," Personal Injury Lawyer Adam Loewy said.
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson claimed APD and the 911 call center would be fully staffed over the weekend and the patrol levels throughout the city would be met.
In a statement, the Austin Police Department said, "Even at fully-staffed capacities, due to the incidents and calls that our officers attend, we did not have enough officers to be at every call once they came in."
The Purcifuls are now recovering from their injuries which include a broken wrist and neck and back issues.
"Often when you're in a car crash, you really don't know how injured you are until 3 to 5 days later. Since this just happened, we're kind of in a wait and see moment, but it's a very serious injury," Loewy said.
APD said they consistently review processes and assess how they can improve in serving the city and those who visit.