Man suspected of starting fires in Barton Creek Greenbelt in custody


Officials: Man started fires in Greenbelt

A man suspected of setting several fires in the Barton Creek Greenbelt was taken into custody Thursday afternoon, Austin Fire Department officials said.

Firefighters first doused a blaze in the greenbelt near Bartoncliff and Brookhaven drives a little after noon. They then responded to at least three more fires between Barton Springs Pool and Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360).

The fire department tweeted around 1:30 p.m. that multiple fires continued to be set in the area. Helicopters were called in to douse fires in areas ground crews couldn’t reach, officials said.

Police did not identify the man they took into custody Thursday.

— Mark D. Wilson, American-Statesman


Officials: 8th-grader struck by vehicle has died

A boy that was struck by a driver in Southeast Austin last month has died from his injuries, KIPP Austin Beacon Prep School officials said in a letter to parents this week.

Daniel Franco Tovar, who was struck by a vehicle on Feb. 28, died in the hospital on Wednesday, the school said. He was an eighth-grader at KIPP, officials said.

“School staff and students remember him as a fun-loving member of the KIPP Austin Beacon Prep community who loved to play soccer, read, and valued friendship and his friends,” the school said in a letter. “Daniel’s resiliency, playful nature and presence will be missed by all that knew him.”

According to Austin police, he was struck when crossing the street in the 700 block of East Slaughter Lane around 6:30 a.m. He was taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Police said the driver stayed at the scene.

School officials said Tovar was on the way to school when he was hit. After officials learned of his death on Wednesday, they set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for his family.

Professional counselors are being made available to student and staff at the campus on Thursday and Friday, officials said.

— Mary Huber, American-Statesman


Electrical fire burns storage facility

An electrical fire damaged a North Austin self-storage facility Wednesday night, fire officials said Thursday morning.

Firefighters responded at 9:42 p.m. to Watson & Taylor Self Storage at 11712 North Lamar Blvd., just north of Braker Lane. Firefighters had the fire under control by 10:11 p.m., said officials with the Austin Fire Department.

The fire ignited after “too many devices were plugged into multiple outlets,” Austin fire officials said.

Investigators said fire resulted in an estimated $100,000 in structural damage and $50,000 in damage to contents inside the facility.

— Katie Hall, American-Statesman


Man who died at water park ID’d

A man who died at Quest ATX water park on Tuesday has been identified by the Travis County sheriff’s office as 63-year-old Kim Benken of Saint Cloud, Fla.

Austin-Travis County EMS officials originally believed Benken had drowned, but the sheriff’s office said autopsy results show no indication of drowning.

The man was installing equipment with other contractors for Quest’s new water park, planned to open in April, “when the man apparently suffered a heart attack while standing in shallow water,” said Jerry Taylor with Quest ATX. “The other men pulled him to shore and started CPR. He was never under water, from what they said. “

A cause of death won’t be released until authorities receive results from a toxicology report, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kristen Dark said. No foul play is suspected.

Quest ATX is a cable-based wakeboard park that also offers stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and mountain biking activities.

Medics responded at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday to the park at 10815 FM 1625.

Benken was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:19 p.m., Dark said.

The man who performed CPR was taken to the hospital for exhaustion and released the same day, Dark said.

— American-Statesman Staff

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