Shared at the request of Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker:
September 17, 2014
Jim Wilson, Williamson County, Sheriff
L.C. (Tony) Marshall, Chief Deputy
Mike Gleason, Patrol Division Captain
Commissioner Ron Morrison
That’s a word we want to use with specific resolve in order to describe the event(s) that fate engaged us to participate in this morning at 6:45am – Unacceptable.
As the Sheriff’s vehicle accident report from this morning will certainly attest, there was an accident early this morning on Highway 95, in Coupland. We know that accidents are a matter-of-fact to you all, but this one entwined us. As we turned on our way to work in Austin, we just happened to be first-hand witnesses to a car accident right at the bridge on Highway 95. In the southbound lane, a small BMW hit a large passenger truck, careened into the concrete guards over the bridge and then attempted to continue in the southbound lane with one tire missing.
As prepared and willing citizens, we and several others stopped immediately to render aid where we could. As we called 9-1-1, we got out to try to direct traffic around the accident while not getting run over. We were told multiple times that “help was on the way.” Well, no, actually it wasn’t. Thankfully, EMS from Taylor, a Taylor Volunteer Fire Dept truck and a Coupland Volunteer Fire Dept truck arrived to help – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.
As others tried to help the driver, we quite literally stood in the middle of Highway 95 stopping and directing highway-level traffic with little more with us than an orange vest from Sportsman’s Warehouse and a small flashlight. At one point, a reckless, thoughtless driver made an unconscionable decision to maneuver through the crowded road and very narrowly missed running over another bystander trying to help. We called 9-1-1 yet again, because at this point, tempers were flaring, people were upset and at risk.
And as we worked the accident scene, we discovered a laundry basket full of alcohol which led the driver to flee the scene and was picked up by an accomplice in a grey truck and escaped. So, now what was at the time, an accident, was now a hit and run crime scene, a felony – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.
We called 9-1-1 a minimum of three times asking for assistance. As a 9-1-1 recording would surely prove, we described the criminal to 9-1-1 operators and requested that law enforcement get there ASAP, yet no one came. Taylor PD arrived, but informed us that
it was Williamson County’s jurisdiction or Texas DPS. Almost an hour after our initial call, one single bike patrol deputy arrived to work the scene. One. One single deputy to work a crime scene? Don’t tell me you didn’t have information – we gave it to you in full color, real-time, with our own boots-on-the-highway detail.
Sheriff Wilson, what exactly has to happen for everyday citizens in distress to get assistance from our law enforcement? How can we call for a “Broken Arrow”? How many times can we call 9-1-1 just to have them tell us that help is on the way? In fact, help was not on the way, so we had to fend for ourselves. An hour, Sheriff, an hour – that’s how long it took for help from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept to arrive.
We realize that over in Precinct 4, we don’t get the share of resources allocated our way that the rest of the county gets – we understand that. But we pay our taxes every bit as must as citizens around Round Rock, Leander and Cedar Park do. This wasn’t just another car accident, as we told our emergency operators, multiple times. We didn’t call 9-1-1 to get our cat out of our damned tree. We needed help. We called. We yelled. We yelled at 9-1-1. We screamed at other drivers who swerved around us as we stood in the road trying to help – but still, no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.
Please know that we work in the public sector; we understand. We have the utmost respect for law enforcement and fully recognize you can’t be everywhere at once and you don’t have a magic resource transporter. But this accident was 8.4 miles from the county’s “fully staffed” East substation in Taylor that, per your website, claims: “While patrolling their districts, uniformed deputies answer calls for service, assist motorists, and protect citizens through community policing.” Not only were they not patrolling this district, they were not answering multiple calls for service, not assisting motorists at a time of need, and not protecting citizens – it took almost an hour to get a single uniformed deputy on the scene.
The irony that September is National Preparedness Month isn’t lost on us with this morning’s events that unfolded before us. We don’t want credits or kudos for our participation. We are, and will continue to be, prepared for anything, at home and away. And thankfully, we and other everyday citizens were prepared – and willing – to help this morning.
We don’t know that we can say the same is true for our county’s law enforcement.
Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker