Andrew Traub

Fleeing drunk driver kills traveler

Robert Benn, who had just flown into Austin after the birth of his third grandchild, was heading from the airport to his hotel about 10 p.m. Monday when police said he neared Airport Boulevard and Bolm Road in East Austin.

Just then, investigators said, a motorist in a Lincoln Navigator suspected of drunken driving began fleeing an Austin police officer and sped through the intersection, slamming into Benn, who had a green light.

Benn, a 64-year-old business analyst,died at the scene.

Austin police said charges are pending against the driver, whose name has not been released. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with minor injuries.

Authorities said a preliminary investigation shows that an officer saw the Navigator near East Seventh Street and North Pleasant Valley Road and suspected the driver was drunk. The officer began, following the SUV, which continued to violate other traffic laws, officials said. The officer then activated his lights and tried to pull the driver over.

Police said that the driver did not stop and instead drove about 20 mph on several streets. He then turned east onto Bolm Road, gunned the engine and sped toward Airport Boulevard before running the red light.

Authorities said the pursuing officer appeared to have acted according to policy. Austin police policy requires officers to consider the offense, the amount of traffic and, whether they know the identity of the offender before a pursuit. Once officers initiate a chase, they are required to broadcast to other officers the reason of the pursuit, the location, the direction of travel and a description of the car.

Blood collected under new law

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