Saturday, February 4, 2012

Motorcyclist chases down hit-and-run suspect hog ties him with his belt

Nicholas Ray Colunga

As he sat on his motorcycle waiting at a red light downtown, Sisto Perez joked with the man and two women crossing in front of him about how hard it would be to find a cab at 2 a.m. on a Friday morning.

Then he remembers seeing a flash of light in his mirror and feeling a blast of wind pass by him.

The driver of a Chevrolet Impala had run the red light and crashed into the pedestrians, critically injuring four-year University of Texas soccer player Kylie Doniak and hurting two other people, officials said Friday.

"That guy ran that light, and just ran them over. He didn't even stop. I don't think there's skid marks out there," Perez said.

That's when the 47-year-old private contractor and father of four chased after the driver on his motorcycle.

"I couldn't just sit there and watch him hit those people and drive off," he said.

By Friday morning, friends of Doniak were posting public messages on Facebook and Twitter urging prayers for her recovery. Doniak, from Chino Hills, Calif., had won several awards as a forward for the Longhorn soccer team, according to the University of Texas athletics website.

She remained in critical condition late Friday at University Medical Center Brackenridge, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Doniak's parents arrived at Brackenridge on Friday from California, UT officials said.

"We and the family appreciate the outreach and outpouring of support for Kylie," UT women's athletics director Chris Plonsky said in a statement. "She is a beloved student-athlete, not just here but in the entire collegiate soccer community. We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers on her behalf."

The suspect in the hit-and-run crash was identified as 22-year-old Nicholas Ray Colunga, who was booked Friday on three charges: two counts of failure to stop and render aid and intoxication assault, police said.

Colunga was taken into custody after Perez chased him down nearly a mile away and detained him until police arrived, said senior police officer Veneza Agui�aga.

Colunga was booked into the Travis County Jail shortly after 5 a.m. and remained jailed late Friday, according to jail records.

Perez said that after he witnessed the crash, he drove his 1100cc Suzuki motorcycle from the site at East Eighth Street and San Jacinto Boulevard and chased the Impala.

Perez said he briefly lost sight of the driver, but then heard a crash and caught up. Perez pulled up close to the car, he said, yelling at the driver to get out.

The driver stopped to look at him, Perez said, then crashed around West 10th and Rio Grande streets before coming to a stop.

Perez said he reached into the car to pull out the driver, who appeared to be intoxicated and was vomiting. Using a belt, he hogtied the man and detained him until police arrived.

"I wanted to make sure he wasn't going anywhere," Perez said.

The crash also injured a man and woman, police and emergency service officials said Friday.

The woman was treated at the scene, while the man was treated for minor injuries at UMC Brackenridge, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County EMS.

Perez said it was not the first time he has gone after someone on his motorcycle.

A few months ago, he said, he chased down a drunken driver who struck a bicyclist on 45th Street and took the person's car keys away until police arrived.

Perez said an officer recognized him Friday, asking him, "Didn't you try to do this about nine months ago?"

Perez said Friday morning that he was merely following an example set by his father.

"My daddy didn't bring up cowards," he said. "A man has to step up when he needs to step up."

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