Family of cyclist killed in Georgetown hit-and-run files wrongful death suit

"You know if Tommy was around, things would have been different.  He was rambunctious, joyful and he created a lot of noise around the house." 

Tom and Luz Ketterhagen smile when thinking about their son Tommy.

But losing him has been hard.  Their lives were completely changed.  And the Ketterhagens are a big group.

"You know, checking on our kids making sure how they're dealing with it.  Tommy has 3 sisters and 6 brothers and everyone's in a different place and they're grieving," Tom Ketterhagen said.

In January of 2017, 19-year-old Tommy was riding his bike on Patriot Way in Georgetown.  

He never came home.  The next morning Tommy's mother Luz found her son's body in a ditch on the side of the road.  The Ketterhagens still visit the "ghost bike" put there in his memory.

"I guess you would say it's a favorite spot.  Younger kids go there and pick flowers and place on his bike," Luz Ketterhagen said. 

Earlier this year Aaron Davison pleaded guilty to manslaughter and accident involving death.  Court documents show he agreed to serve 2 years in prison and 10 years of probation -- but attorney Jeff Edwards says Davison is already out after only serving a total of 404 days.

"The idea that Aaron Davison can utilize the system in his favor to minimize his jail and prison sentence...well that ends now," Edwards said. 

The Ketterhagens have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Davison and his passenger who was never charged in the criminal case.  The suit alleges Davison was driving recklessly and playing with his phone while on the way to buy illegal drugs.  And then the two left Ketterhagen for dead after hitting him head-on.

"The questions will be like this: Why did you leave?  What did you think happened?  What were you doing before the accident?  Where did you go after the accident?  I think the answers will be illuminating," Edwards said.  

"It's not easy for us, it's not really in our nature to be like this but the system hasn't really worked for us yet," Tom Ketterhagen said.  

Edwards says it's not just about compensation for the family, it's a chance for the community to say "not anymore."

"We hope to get a trial date within the next year and we hope to make this an important case so that others won't serve the same fate.  And when I say 'others' I don't just mean the Tommy Ketterhagens.  I mean their families, their loved ones, their friends," Edwards said.

By the way Austin Police say here in Austin in 2017 there were 76 traffic deaths, 4 of those were cyclists.
The Ketterhagens are also hoping to advocate at the Capitol for "Tommy's Law."  Edwards says the hope is the State will step up and enhance criminal penalties for hit and run drivers.