A bicyclist who died in Central Austin on Tuesday night after being hit by a vehicle has been identified as 53-year-old Charlie Bunton Jr., according to the Travis County medical examiner.
Bunton was riding his bike on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near Scottsdale Road, just east of Springdale Road, around 11:45 p.m. when he was hit, police said.
Austin-Travis County EMS medics arrived at the scene within a few minutes of the crash and began performing CPR to try to save Bunton’s life, but he died from his injuries.
Investigators shut down traffic on Martin Luther King for several hours while they investigated the crash.
Austin police said the driver who hit Bunton, identified as 38-year-old Joshua Christopher Brosemer, stayed at the scene and was arrested under suspicion of drunken driving.
Representatives of Bike Austin released a statement on Wednesday, sending their condolences to Bunton’s family, but scolding Austin police for blaming the cyclist, at least in part, for the crash.
“In interviews following the crash, members of the Austin Police Department seemed to place the blame for the crash on the bicyclist, who reportedly wasn’t wearing adequate reflective equipment,” the statement said.
“We strongly condemn the Austin Police Department for placing the blame for this crash on the cyclist before a full investigation has been completed. A driver made an inexcusable and reprehensible decision to drive under the influence. That’s where the Austin Police Department should focus, both in their investigation and their message to the public,” the group said.
“Too often, bicyclists and pedestrians are scapegoated by law enforcement when a fatal or incapacitating crash occurs. This logic lets reckless drivers off the hook,” Bike Austin said.
The American-Statesman sought Austin police’s comments to Bike Austin’s letter, and in response, the department released the following statement:
This incident is still an open and active investigation and all of the factors leading to its cause are still not known. Anytime a life is lost on our roadways, it is tragic. Our city does not tolerate drinking and driving because it does lead to serious injuries and in this case, death. It is important to note that part of our responsibility as a law enforcement agency is to offer ways/tips to keep our community safe so that another tragic event like this does not happen. Everyone should be responsible when operating a vehicle, walking or cycling. More importantly, if you use alcohol, we ask that you always have a plan in place to get home safe and avoid serious injury or death.