AUSTIN – Four members of a Round Rock family were killed Thursday morning in a violent crash southeast of Austin. The family was almost home after spending time together on vacation.
The SUV veered off the highway and came to rest between two overpasses at Hwy 21. It rolled several times ejecting all of the nine passengers inside. Four adults were killed. Five children ranging in age from an infant to a 15-year-old survived according to Mustang Ridge Police Chief Michael Rodriguez.
“Anytime that you walk up on a scene with children involved it’s a heartbreaker … a heartbreaker for me … because I have children of my own. Then you have to regain your composure and continue working to try to save the lives that are still there,” said Chief Rodriguez.
The children were taken to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin.
Investigators said by Thursday afternoon, two of the crash victims were in stable condition but the three others survivors spent the day in emergency surgery.
The smashed SUV that they were in was taken to a nearby holding lot. The family is from Round Rock and at the time was returning home from a trip to Mexico.
The section of toll road where the wreck happened is operated by the SH 130 Concession Company. It’s part of a private partnership with the state and known mostly for its 85 mph speed limit. Accidents there typically involve collisions with wild hogs but investigators say that is not what happened Thursday morning.
A long piece of tire tread was recovered not far from where the SUV left the road which is why Chief Rodriguez believes the wreck may have been caused by a blow out. The temperature at the time of the crash was 81 degrees but recent triple digit temperatures could have been a factor. That possibility is why the chief would like to see the speed limit lowered during extreme hot spells
“Right now it would be good to look at lowering the speeds because of that. 85 is way too fast for certain vehicles. If the tread on your vehicles, for instance this vehicle, if it was a blow out and tread is not good, this is what can happen,” said Chief Rodriguez.
Five miles south of the crash scene the speed limit has been lowered to 75. That was done because of a defect in the roadway and not the current weather conditions.