Thursday, October 13, 2005

Trouble in store for Bartlett Mayor as a result of a collision in Austin, Texas

The Bartlett mayor, who denied having a role in an Austin hit-and-run collision last week was charged Wednesday in connection with the incident. Bartlett is a a small town in Williamson County.

While the Austin Police Department charged Bobby Hill, 61, with leaving the scene of a collision, there is much speculation that he left the scene to avoid another DWI charge.

Austin Municipal Court officials refused Wednesday to release a copy of the arrest warrant, citing a new policy under which they say the document is not public until an arrest is made.

Hill could not be reached for comment and was not in custody Wednesday evening. The Class B misdemeanor charge is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000, the same punishment range as a first time DWI.

In an unrelated matter, the Texas Rangers closed Bartlett City Hall for about an hour Wednesday and searched it.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley confirmed that the search took place but declined to comment on what authorities were investigating. The search warrant was sealed.

Hill said Friday that one of his children had the car at the time of the accident.

The hit-and-run happened about 5 p.m. Thursday when a white Cadillac Escalade, registered to Hill's wife, rear-ended a Toyota Tacoma on the upper deck of southbound Interstate 35.

The driver of the Cadillac fled the scene. Witnesses described him as a white man with short graying hair, police said. Coincidently, this description fits Hill as well.

In August, Hill was ticketed in Williamson County for speeding. During the traffic stop, he denied he was speeding, according to a video recording.

"I think you're harassing me," Hill told the deputy who stopped him. "You been wanting to do this a long time. I hope you stay out of Bartlett. If you don't, I'm calling the sheriff."

Hill was convicted of drunken driving in Travis County in 2003 and served 18 months' probation, according to public records.

Click here for the full story as reported in the Austin American Statesman