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Disaster and Accident

Woman receives manslaughter in Kyle I-35 motorcycle death

The Free Press of Buda, Texas

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A woman was arrested Saturday after authorities allege her reckless driving last August resulted in the death of an out-of-state motorcyclist on Interstate 35.

According to a Hays County arrest affidavit, authorities arrested Kelly Lynn Watson, 38, of Round Rock, and charged her with manslaughter, which is a second degree felony.

Watson was booked and released from the Hays County Jail Saturday on $50,000 bond.

Watson was arrested after Kyle Police conducted their investigation into an August 14, 2015 accident that killed James Keith Grear, 49, of Tennessee. Kyle Police interviewed nine witnesses, with five of them telling police Watson was operating a vehicle "without due regard to the safety of other people on the roadway."

The accident happened along the southbound lanes of I-35 near mile marker 215 in Kyle.

According to witnesses, a gray 2005 Honda Accord, driven by Watson, changed lanes or swerved and hit a silver 2013 BMW K1600 motorcycle operated by Grear.

Grear lost control of his motorcycle, with the bike hitting the inside concrete retaining wall of the interstate.

Grear was thrown from the bike and landed on the northbound side of the interstate. Hays County Precinct No. 2 Justice of the Peace Judge Beth Smith pronounced him dead at the scene.

According to the affidavit, Kelly advised officers that she "wasn't sure what happened" and that she felt her vehicle "lose control and go to the left." Kelly told officers she was in "stop and go traffic" and avoided hitting a vehicle before swerving into the motorcycle.

When questioned at Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos, Kelly said she was traveling in the left lane at approximately 65 miles per hour. She said a vehicle in front of her moved to the middle lane and she realized she was quickly advancing on motorcycles that were also in the left lane.

Watson told officers she moved quickly to the middle lane, but felt herself lose control of the steering wheel. She said the vehicle moved to the left and she was unable to avoid the motorcycle. Watson told officers, according to the affidavit, that her tires needed replacing, her front end was out of alignment, and that the "vehicle shakes when it gets above 65 miles per hour."

When asked if she was driving recklessly, Kelly said she didn't as she had "plenty of time to get to work" in San Marcos. She told officers she had only taken her prescription ADHD medication earlier that morning.

But several witness accounts, according to the affidavit, said they felt the Honda was "being operated in a reckless manner."

One witness told officers they observed the Accord, which they claim passed them at 80 to 90 miles per hour, was "speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, all the way from Austin."

Another witness said the erratic movements of the Accord "resembled the driving of someone who realized they needed to exit and then jerked the wheel hard to go across the lanes."

Another witness said they saw the driver of the Accord have a phone up to her ear. That witness said the Accord cut from the left to the center lane, then went sideways to the right before going back and hitting the motorcycle. That person, who was the first person to get to the Accord, said the driver kept asking for her cell phone, which appeared to be on the driver's side floorboard.

In August 2015, Kyle Police Lt. Andre Marmolejo requested a subpoena for Watson's medical records for her treatment following the accident.

That same month, police received the records, which showed Watson's urinalsys was positive for amphetamines, benzodiazepines and opiates. But Marmolejo observed no notes of Kelly being in an altered state or impaired during her treatment.

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Original Publication Date: May 25, 2016

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