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Austin records first traffic death involving rented scooter

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 by Andrew Weber, KUT

A 21-year-old scooter rider was killed in a crash last week, says the Austin Police Department. According to the department, it’s the first death related to a rented scooter in Austin.

Police say Mark Sands was riding a Lime scooter on the wrong side of the Interstate 35 southbound frontage road at around 1 a.m. Friday near the on-ramp at Fifth Street. An Uber driver traveling in the right lane changed lanes and struck him. Police say the driver stayed at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation.

Sands was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon.

Police are investigating the crash and say a toxicology report is pending.

This is the fifth traffic fatality in Austin this year.

More than 2.6 million rides have been taken on scooters in Austin since April, according to Austin Transportation Department data.

The scooters came to the city last year without approval from the Austin Transportation Department. Bird initially rolled out its fleet, followed by Lime and other providers shortly after. The city then fast-tracked a pilot program to keep the scooters operating in Austin, which was approved by City Council in April. Now, the Austin Transportation Department says there are nine scooter operators in the city and more than 15,000 scooters.

Council is still considering tweaks before a final vote on the rules, which is expected this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting a first-of-its-kind study on the impact of the scooters in Austin.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT.

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