Despite the number of recent hit-and-runs, the San Marcos Police Department will not increase the number of officers patrolling the downtown area.
SMPD Commander Penny Dunn said the department has noticed an increase in pedestrian-vehicle fatalities since May 2009, when local bars extended their closing time from midnight to 2 a.m.
Dunn said there have been nine vehicle fatalities since Jan. 1. Of the nine car-related deaths recorded this year, five were pedestrians. Dunn said five vehicle fatalities were recorded in 2011, and three were pedestrians.
Although the recent hit-and-runs did not take place during a game day weekend, SMPD is only planning to increase the number of officers patrolling downtown during large events.
Dunn said they would only increase the number of officers when there is an event, like a football game, that brings in a large volume of bar-goers. She said on a normal night there are usually two police officers patrolling downtown.
San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said there were 10 police officers patrolling The Square Saturday night after the Texas State vs. Texas Tech football game. He hopes to eventually have more officers downtown, but in the meantime there will only be an increase during game day weekends.
Williams said officers stopped pedestrians who were jaywalking Saturday night and informed them about the dangers of not crossing at an intersection. He said this was in response to a Sept. 2 hit-and-run that left three pedestrians injured.
According to a Sept. 6 University Star article, the incident occurred in downtown San Marcos at approximately 2 a.m. during Labor Day weekend.
Cas Kutach was a criminal justice junior, but had to withdraw from Texas State after sustaining multiple physical injuries during the incident. The two other injured pedestrians, his sister and brother-in-law, are Texas State alumni.
Kutach, Kristin Fanelli and Roman Fanelli were crossing the Hopkins and North LBJ intersection after leaving Taxi’s Piano Bar when a pickup truck struck Roman Fanelli first, then Kutach. Kutach said the truck nipped his sister’s leg, but she was not severely injured. He said it was their right-of-way, and the driver was speeding and intoxicated.
Kutach was released from Brackenridge Hospital in Austin six days after the accident. The injuries he received were a fractured skull, a shattered knee with multiple torn ligaments, a broken right arm, several cracked ribs and a punctured lung. He requires surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee.
The driver of the vehicle fled the scene, but several witnesses were able to write down her license plate number, Kutach said. She ran a red light before hitting him and his relatives.
The driver, 25-year-old Tiffany Dahl, was charged with three counts of failure to stop and render aid and two counts of intoxication assault. Dahl was released from jail after posting the $75,000 bond on the five charges.
Williams said SMPD is trying to get ahead of the curve to “prevent collisions from happening, period.” He wants pedestrians to be mindful of where they are walking, and to use the proper intersections. Keeping people out of the streets and making sure they are crossing at the appropriate time would solve a lot of the auto-pedestrian collisions, Williams said.
“There is not a whole lot we can do,” Williams said. “It’s really hard for us to have any proactive effort to reduce the leaving-the-scene collisions.”