Finding a dead man in your yard is the shock of a lifetime — and that’s exactly what happened to Martie Simon when she stepped out onto the porch to sip her coffee on a recent morning and heard her dogs going berserk.
But Simon said she isn’t shocked to learn how police believe the man, found lying bloody and lifeless along her side-yard fence on Oct. 16, was killed. Although there are no known witnessess to the early morning incident, Hurst police are investigating the possibility that Eric Augsburger, 51, was struck and killed by a vehicle in the 100 block of Bedford Court East, near the intersection with Norwood Drive.
No arrests have been made, and anyone with information is urged to call 817-788-7180.
Simon, who has lived at the corner of those two south Hurst streets for almost three years, said it’s common for motorists to drive relatively fast in the otherwise-quiet, out-of-the-way residential area.
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Bedford Court in particular has a 30 mph speed limit (the default speed limit according to state law, since no signs are actually posted). But eastbound vehicles often whip around the tree-lined curve in the road traveling faster than that, she said.
“They come flying through here,” said Simon, who operates a bakery business in her home. “There’s no speed bumps. There’s no stop sign.”
Petitioning the city
Another resident of the neighborhood, Bill Finstad, earlier this year petitioned the City Council to install a four-way stop sign at the intersection. Currently, northbound and southbound traffic on Norwood Drive are controlled by stop signs, but eastbound and westbound travelers on Bedford Court are not required to stop.
“I think a stop sign would be a small investment for the lives of the citizens,” said Finstad.
But in September, Finstad’s request for a stop sign was rejected by the city’s Traffic Safety Commission, which found the intersection didn’t meet state criteria for a sign.
For example, Hurst officials installed traffic-counting devices at the intersection, and concluded that during the busiest hour of a typical weekday, only 117 vehicles passed through — including only 54 cars on Bedford Court that didn’t have to come to a stop.
The city study also found that the average speed traveled by vehicles in the area was, for the most part, at or below the 30 mph limit.
“The study did find the intersection to be low speed, low volume, with no indications of speeding issues,” City Engineer Greg Dickens said in an email.
But Finstad said that despite those findings the guidelines in the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices don’t prohibit the city from installing a stop sign, if that’s what residents want.
They come flying through here. There’s no speed bumps. There’s no stop sign.
Martie Simon, Hurst resident
City officials will wait until the police investigation is concluded to determine whether the traffic safety issue should be revisited, Johnson said.
Still a mystery
How Augsburger came to be on the street along Bedford Court is still something of a mystery.
Augsburger’s home address was listed on Tarrant County medical examiner records as 1136 E. Broadway Ave. in Fort Worth. That’s an area of southeast Fort Worth, more than 14 miles from the scene of his death.
Augsburger was a registered sex offender, after a 1998 case involving a 13-year-old female, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety database.
Police haven’t provided details speculating why he was in the neighborhood.
Simon said she glanced over at her side yard when her dogs began barking frantically, and at first thought the man’s body might have been a Halloween decoration — a dummy of some kind. Or, she thought, if it was a real person, perhaps it was someone who had become intoxicated and fallen asleep.
But when she got a little closer and realized it was a seriously injured man, she called 911.
Simon said she didn’t hear a car crash, or see evidence of a hit-and-run, other than blood spots on the Bedford Court pavement. She showed the spots on the road to the first officer who responded to the 911 call. The officer immediately asked her to step back and cordoned off an area for an investigation.
Of the victim, Simon said, “It was obvious his face and head took quite a bit of damage. But I couldn’t tell that he was hit by a car or been in a fight or something. There was just damage — very obvious damage.”
The medical examiner’s report determined Augsburger died of “multiple blunt force injuries of face and chest.” But as of Saturday, the manner of death was still pending.
“We don’t have a lot of new information right now,” said Hurst police Lt. Jim Pell. “The evidence does seem to indicate that the incident did take place right there at the scene. Although we can’t say definitely right now, the evidence is consistent with a hit-and-run accident.”