First Scooter Death in Austin
A 21-year-old who was riding a Lime scooter when he collided with an Uber vehicle near Sixth Street last week has died, becoming the city’s first traffic death involving an electric stand-up scooter since the devices began popping up in April, according to Dell Seton Medical Center officials and Austin police.
The scooter rider, identified by police as Mark Sands, died Saturday from his injuries sustained early Friday. He is the fifth person to die in Austin traffic this year.
According to a preliminary police investigation into the collision, an Uber driver in a 2006 silver Volkswagen Jetta was heading south in the right lane of the Interstate 35 frontage road near downtown Austin around 12:52 a.m. Friday. The driver changed into the left lane to get onto the southbound I-35 entrance ramp, but Sands was riding his scooter in the opposite direction — traveling north on the southbound left lane — and the two collided on the service road near East Sixth Street, police said.
Sands was unconscious when he was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m. the next day.
The Uber driver remained at the scene and was cooperating with officers in the investigation, police said. Authorities on Monday were still awaiting toxicology results in the case.
Collin Morgan, Lime’s general manager for Austin and San Antonio, said the scooter company has been in contact with local law enforcement and plans to cooperate.
While Sands’ death marks the first scooter fatality in Austin, other cities have reported similar deadly crashes. A 24-year-old man who died in Dallas after falling off a Lime scooter was most likely the first person to die in such a crash since the devices began showing up in U.S. cities, the Washington Post reported in September. Another man was killed after an SUV hit and dragged him for several yards while he was riding a Lime scooter in Washington, D.C., according to a CNN report.
More than 14,000 electric scooters are available to rent in Austin, and people
have taken more than a million rides on them, sometimes resulting in serious injuries and trips to hospitals. Dell Seton Medical Center treated one to two scooter injuries a day between April and August last year, including broken elbows, knees and wrists, cuts and scrapes, and at least four serious head injuries.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are working with Austin Public Health and the city’s Transportation Department to conduct a first-ever study of scooter crashes and how they can be prevented.
Scooter users in Austin are required to follow the same rules that bikes do, which include following traffic laws and traveling in bike lanes, vehicle lanes and most sidewalks.