APD sergeant runs 129 miles to honor fallen officers

An Austin Police Sergeant finished a 129-mile run to honor three of his fellow officers who died this past weekend.

It was a very long journey for Sgt. Ben Mewis all done on foot.

"I just finished running from Goliad to Gonzalez back to the Capitol," he said.

Sgt. Mewis says he started the run on Monday morning and finished early Wednesday morning. He says it was one of the most emotionally and physically demanding runs he has ever done, but not for the obvious reason.

"Over this weekend, my department has lost three officers in the span of just over 24 hours," he said.

Sgt. Mewis started this run for charity, but decided to also run for the three fallen officers as well. He honored them at the mile marker along the route that corresponded to each officer’s badge number.

First was mile 42.03 for retired APD Officer Ray Shillito Jr who passed away in a car crash over the weekend in Leander. His badge number was 4203.

Sgt. Mewis stopped at mile marker 47.29 to honor Officer Kristy Astran who passed away over the weekend. Her badge number was 4729. 

Last, Sgt. Mewis honored Officer Jorge Pastore at mile marker 90.97. He was an APD SWAT officer killed in the line of duty Saturday morning while trying to rescue hostages at a South Austin home. 


Sgt. Mewis says being a police officer is like being part of a family so losing any officer hits the department hard.

"They are my second family so I don't know how else to explain that. It's just something to experience," he said.

He even ran for a fourth officer, retired APD Officer Ricardo Zapata, his friend's father who was supposed to help him in this run. Zapata unfortunately passed away earlier this year. To honor him, Sgt. Mewis wore his name and badge number on a running bib.

Sgt. Mewis says running is a hobby for him, but it is the causes he runs for that keep him going.

"It holds meaning to somebody other than just me being in my own head as I'm going down the roadway. I mean, that's so much better overall," he said.