A couple driving with their two children over the weekend claimed they were hit head-on by a drunk driver, who sobered up and dodged criminal charges after the defunded Austin Police Department took hours to respond to the crash due to understaffing issues.
Lacey Purciful told Fox News Digital that she, her husband, and her two children were struck by a drunk driver on March 18 around 4 p.m. in North Austin.
Purciful explained that they were driving on Jollyville Road after visiting the aquarium when a male driver crossed two lanes of traffic and collided with the family's vehicle.
"Head on, didn't hit the brakes, airbags deployed, screaming kids, smoke, adrenaline, we started screaming and got the kids out of the car," she stated.
The family claimed that the driver, a male in his 70s, was intoxicated. Purciful explained that a bus driver at the crash scene told her that the male driver "smells like alcohol" and was "refusing to get out of his car."
The male sat inside his vehicle for "over 30 minutes" and, when he finally emerged, "he fell to the ground and was making weird noises and just acting weird," Purciful said.
After the family phoned the authorities five times and waited 2.5 hours, an Austin police officer responded to the crash.
The couple said the responding officer told them that only five cops were working in the area at the time. When the suspected drunk driver was given a sobriety test, he passed and was allowed to walk free.
"Everyone could smell alcohol on this man," Purciful claimed. "He openly admitted what he was drinking. He told my husband he was drinking High Noons. It isn't just me making accusations; he was just straight-up coming out and telling us and there was no remorse."
Purciful added that the male suspect "never asked if our children were OK," nor did he apologize for the accident.
According to the couple's personal injury attorney Adam Loewy, there are typically around 25 officers assigned to the area if the department had been appropriately staffed. The police's delayed response time gave the driver time to sober up and dodge any criminal charges, he stated.
"I've heard this again and again where officers are telling me, look, we don't have enough people working, and so when that's the scenario, these men and women go to different calls, and there's more calls that come in, and what happens is you just wait, and that's just how it is," Loewy said.
Loewy added that it is unlikely a case could be brought against the city; however, he noted that civil actions could be taken against the suspect's insurance company and the bar that served him.
Since 2020, when the Austin Police Department's budget was cut following the George Floyd riots, the department's staffing has declined. The city council also recently dropped previously agreed-upon contracts, which pushed many officers to retire.
The department told Fox News Digital that it received Purciful's initial 911 call at 4:18 p.m., and a police unit was assigned to the call at 6:11 p.m. The responding officer arrived at the scene at 6:35 p.m.
"That sector and surrounding sectors were busy assisting with other emergency calls," Austin Police Department stated. "Even at fully staffed capacities, due to the incidents and calls that our officers attend, we may not always have enough officers to be at every call once they came in."
"Our officers work hard every day to handle the high volume of calls that we may receive and answer them accordingly with the resources we have on hand," the department added.
"Unfortunately, this service level differs from the level we hope to provide our community. Still, we consistently review our processes and assess how we can improve in serving the city of Austin and those who choose to visit."
Head on collision by a drunk driver. City of Austin TX police department has yet to arrive…2 Hours Later!!!!##drunkdriver##austintx##caraccident##wheresthecops
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