Things That Matter

Teenager Drives Into a Man in a Wheelchair in Hit-and-Run: ‘I Saw the Video and I Thanked God’

A 17-year-old from Austin, Texas named Pablo Antonio Avila-Banagas was arrested on September 9, six days after a hit-and-run incident involving a man in a wheelchair.

According to Meaww, Banagas was booked at Travis County Jail on at least three charges that include injury to a disabled person, failure to stop and render aid, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The incident took place just before 10 AM near North Lamar Boulevard in Austin. In surveillance footage that captured the incident, a man riding in a power wheelchair is seen crossing what appears to be an empty parking lot.

At one point, he’s seen raising his hand to warn an incoming white truck that Banagas was driving. Banagas’ truck struck the man, who was then seen being dragged underneath the vehicle while fragments of his wheelchair were sent flying all over the parking lot.

Thankfully, a nearby fire engine saw the incident before police were called and was able to give the man, who suffered life-threatening injuries, first aid before he was transported to a nearby hospital by EMS medics, reports CBS Austin.

The surveillance footage capturing the hit-and-run has been released to the public. However, viewer discretion is advised as the video is very graphic:

According to Fox 7 Austin, a local grassroots organization called ADAPT Texas, which advocates for disabled people across the state, responded to the video recently, when one of its members named Stephanie Thomas responded, saying, “I was really shocked when I saw the video,” adding, “I know that hate crimes against people with disabilities are a real thing, but it’s always something else when you see it.”

As of right now, authorities are still investigating the hit-and-run although, with the limited information available, Banagas seems to still be in police custody. The man who was hit was recently revealed to be Rogelio De Luna, per CBS Austin, who said, “Yesterday, I saw the video and I thank god.” He noted he hadn’t seen the video until recently and said, “As far as I remember, I went through the parking area of La Michoacana and now I don’t remember until I saw the video.”

An anonymous eyewitness added, “It happened so fast. The fire truck was right there as it happened. He ended up taking the wheelchair underneath his truck going around the sidewalk trying to get the wheelchair off and then he just fled the scene.”

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