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Friends of hit and run victim urge witnesses to come forward

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Friends of a city of Austin employee killed by a hit and run driver last weekend are asking for anyone with information on the crash to come forward and contact police.

Cell phone video of Luke Strabala shot by friend Paul Slutes shows him doing some work at a City of Austin pool last Thursday. Less than two days after the video was taken, Strabala was killed while riding his motorcycle in Southeast Austin.

"We were just hanging out watching crazy movies on TV and he had to work the next day so he headed out," said friend Kerri Thomas.

The crash happened around 1 a.m. Saturday. Police say Strabala was stopped at a red light at Riverside Drive and Ben White when a vehicle struck him from behind and did not stop. Strabala was taken to the hospital where he died. Police say he was wearing his helmet.

"Losing Luke is like losing 15 years of your life," said Slutes, who worked with Strabala for that long.

Strabala was a mechanic for the aquatics division of the City of Austin Parks and Rec. Department. Friends say he was a great guy with a goofy personality and someone who was always willing to help others.

"I know the citizens of Austin are really going to miss him, even though they didn't know who he was, they're really going to miss him because behind the scenes he was the go to guy."

Friends are angry that a driver would leave the scene after hitting him.

"We seem in this city to have so many people that hit people or hit things and just take it upon themselves to leave the scene, and you're hurting other people and not just the person that you may have hit or the car, just the ripple effect it has on everybody in the community," Thomas told FOX 7.

According to Austin Police, of the more than 260 failure to stop and render aid crashes this year, there have been 11 deaths. In 2012, nearly 400 failure to stop and render aid crashes resulted in 12 fatalities.

"Who knows how many would have been saved if they would have stuck around, called 911, rendered some aid," said Detective Will Mercado with the Austin Police Dept. "Imagine one of your family members lying there on the side of the road."

Strabala's friends have a message for the driver in this case: "I would want them to know that they took a wonderful person form this earth and that he meant so much to his family, friends, to the community of Austin. Do the right thing. Friends, family, we need some closure, we need to know what happened that night."

Friends have organized a memorial in Strabala's honor for Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Hancock Recreation Center.

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