Crash, bomb squad investigation closes mainlanes of I-35 in South Austin

Drunk driver's false claim shut down traffic for nearly 4 hours

July 26, 2018 - 12:22 pm

AUSTIN (KJCE) -- The mainlanes of Interstate 35 in South Austin spent much of Thursday closed to traffic, following a mid-morning crash, grass fire, and subsequent investigation of a suspicious package.

Police say a driver was traveling northbound in the 6900 block of South Interstate 35 around 10 a.m. Thursday morning. A 9-1-1 caller reported that he was driving at a high rate of speed and crashed into the median of the interstate in the 7500 block, where the vehicle caught fire. The caller said the driver exited the vehicle and began walking away from the scene; police were able to locate him in a nearby construction zone along the interstate.

When police confronted the driver, he told them that there was a bomb inside his car. That prompted officials to close the mainlanes in both directions out of an abundance of caution, detouring traffic to the frontage roads. Crews worked to clear two packages in the vehicle, including a bottle containing a clear liquid. Both packages were deemed safe around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, and the mainlanes completely re-opened around 2:30 p.m.

TxDOT waived tolls for northbound motorists using State Highway 45 SE and State Highway 130 to Highway 71 as a detour.

Austin-Travis County EMS says the driver was transported from the scene to South Austin Medical Center with minor injuries. Police say he has been charged with driving while intoxicated; other charges may be possible depending on the outcome of the investigation, which police say is ongoing.

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