FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 20, 2012
For Information Contact:
Maryland Man Sentenced To 14 Months In Prison
For 2010 Fatal Crash in Southeast Washington
- Defendant, Driving at 75 MPH, Killed Bicyclist on Southern Avenue -
WASHINGTON – Richard A. Austin, 52, of Forestville, Md., was sentenced today to 14 months in prison on a charge of negligent homicide in a traffic fatality that took place in 2010 in Southeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Austin pled guilty in May 2012 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable William M. Jackson. Upon completion of his sentence, Austin will be placed on three years of supervised release.
At the plea hearing, Austin admitted that he was driving his Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle at about 10:30 p.m. on June 4, 2010, along Southern Avenue. The victim, David Haywood Williams Jr., 40, was riding a bicycle, in the same direction, in the 1400 block of Southern Avenue. Austin drove up to Mr. Williams from behind and struck him with his SUV. Then Austin continued on Southern Avenue, stopping on 12th Street SE, about two blocks away.
When he was hit by the SUV, Mr. Williams was thrown from his bicycle and landed on the roadway of Southern Avenue. A witness reported seeing the defendant’s SUV traveling on Southern Avenue prior to, during, and after striking Mr. Williams. The witness stated that the defendant appeared to be traveling in excess of the posted 30 mph speed limit, and that the vehicle did not slow or stop before, during, or after striking Mr. Williams.
The witness stated that Mr. Williams appeared to be unconscious upon landing on the pavement. Mr. Williams then was struck by a second car moments after being struck by the SUV.
The witness called 911 and an ambulance came to aid Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams was taken to Prince George’s County Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.
After driving off, Austin returned on foot to the 1400 block of Southern Avenue. There, he admitted to officers from the Metropolitan Police Department that he was the driver who struck Mr. Williams. A search was conducted of the Airbag Control Module (ACM) of the SUV. The data revealed that Austin was driving 75 mph approximately one second prior to striking Mr. Williams. The ACM also recorded no braking for the previous eight seconds prior to impact.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of those who investigated the case for the MPD, including detectives from the Major Crash Investigations Unit. He also praised the work of Jack M. Titus, M.D., and Barry S. Levine, M.D., of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland.
U.S. Attorney Machen also commended the efforts of members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Litigation Technology Specialist Tracy Van Atta, Victim Witness Specialist Marcia Rinker and Intelligence Research Specialist Lawrence W. Grasso. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen thanked former Assistant U.S. Attorney John Soroka, who indicted the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Feitel who further investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who prepared the case for trial and negotiated the plea agreement.