Driver accused of killing construction worker says he was checking app on cell phone

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA NEWS) – A man arrested in the hit-and-run death of a highway construction worker last week was reportedly checking an app on his cell phone when he struck and killed the woman.

Thirty-seven-year-old Christopher Gauna was take into custody over the weekend on a charge of failure to stop and render aid resulting in death.

Police believe he was behind the wheel of an SUV that hit 28-year-old Tracie Sheppard early Thursday while she was
loading signs on her work truck on Loop 1604 near Hausman Road. Sheppard’s truck was on the right shoulder with overhead flashing emergency lights and directional lights.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by KTSA News, Gauna was checking a Lyft app on his cell phone and was not paying attention to the roadway when his Ford Explorer veered out of the right lane and onto the shoulder, hitting the trailer that was attached to Sheppard’s work truck. Then he hit Sheppard, pinning her between the two vehicles.

Police say Gauna kept going. He drove to an apartment complex where he parked the SUV and called a friend to pick him up.

A woman later called police to report a suspicious Ford Explorer parked at the complex had a flat tire and right front damage. Officers recovered the vehicle and found evidence linked to the fatal hit-and-run accident.

Gauna told police he’s an insurance claims adjuster and he knows that leaving the scene of the crash is against the law. It’s not known why he was checking the Lyft app before the fatal accident occurred.

Sheppard was working for a subcontractor when she was killed.

“She was part of Altus Traffic Management, which essentially sets up and closes down lanes for the protection of the workers and the traveling public,” said Hernan Rosemberg with TxDOT.

He says last year, there were more than 25,000 work zones crashes in Texas, with 161 deaths and 684 serious injuries. In the San Antonio district, which includes Bexar County and 11 other counties, 12 people died in work zone crashes in 2018.

Rosemberg wants to remind drivers that there’s a Slow Down Move Over law in Texas, which requires drivers approaching a work zone, stationary emergency vehicles or tow trucks to move one lane over, if they can, or slow down 20 miles below the speed limit. That includes a stationary emergency vehicle or a recovery or repair vehicle.

Drivers caught speeding in construction zones can face  fines starting at $2,000,

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