Missing UNT student found dead in Austin

 A missing University of North Texas student was found dead in Lady Bird Lake over the weekend, according to Austin law enforcement.

Officials said Julio Santos III, 22, was pulled from the lake at 7:35 a.m. Sunday. He was reported missing by friends 6 p.m. Friday, and was last seen at East Sixth St. and Red River St. at 2:30 a.m. Friday, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Austin Police Department.

Santos' cause of death is pending, and APD said they do not believe his death to be under suspicious circumstances.

Austin police detectives are asking anyone with any information about the incident to call the homicide tip line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS (8477), or text “Tip 103” plus your message to CRIMES (274637).

Heavy rain caused Shoal Creek to to rise out of its banks and flood parts of downtown Austin on Lamar Boulevard on Monday afternoon. Whole Earth Provision Co. was one of the many stores to flood, with the water causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Heavy rain caused Shoal Creek to to rise out of its banks and flood parts of downtown Austin on Lamar Boulevard on Monday after reports of flooding in both Hyde Park and East Austin. 

Both President Obama and Governor Abbott declared a state of emergency in Central Texas after the weekend's near-biblical storms, which caused widespread, deadly flooding in Hays, Travis, Williamson and surrounding counties. At least three people are dead in southern Hays County after the Blanco River rose 40 feet near Wimberley, sweeping homes and cabins off their foundations, and the Austin American-Statesman reports two dead in Travis and Williamson County after receding floodwaters exposed submerged cars. 

Check out some of our photos from the Shoal Creek area, where many local businesses have been water-damaged.

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Severe rain causes widespread flooding in Austin

Torrential rains Monday caused Austin-area creeks to overflow, flooding many of the city's streets.

Much of Lamar Boulevard above Lady Bird Lake is underwater after Shoal Creek jumped its banks earlier this afternoon, essentially becoming a river. No injuries have been reported, but more than 250 low-water crossings in and around the city have been closed, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Hyde Park is also experiencing heavy flooding and reports of cars being swept away by floodwaters, according to KXAN. The Daily Texan urges its readers to stay indoors and away from any high water areas if at all possible.

Third UT student diagnosed with mumps

A third UT student from the Moody College of Communication was diagnosed with mumps, according to an email notification from University Health Services.

The student is believed to have contracted the disease after being in contact with two other students whose mumps diagnoses were announced last week. According to the UHS email, the student attended a party at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house Saturday before being diagnosed. The chapter leadership is working with Austin and Travis County Health Services to notify people who attended the party.

Mumps is a highly contagious disease by which those infected usually experience fevers, body aches, and tiredness before noticing a severe swelling of their salivary glands. UHS first reported a mumps diagnosis May 6.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps outbreaks rarely occur because the mumps vaccine started being heavily administered in the late 1960s.

Photo Credit: Miles Hutson | Daily Texan Staff

The first of its kind of the Austin area, The Daily Texan's interactive crime map allows users to browse the various crimes the Austin Police Department has reported, separated by location and type of offense. 

The map is updated nightly with the most recent, complete data from APD.

To view the map, click here.

Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Welcome to Life Delivered, a video series on Austin's delivery economy. Watch the introduction video then click on the interactive image below to select which video in the series you would like to watch.

Click on the interactive image below to select which video in the series you would like to watch.

As a part of his plan to increase the UT System’s influence and excellence in higher education, System Chancellor William McRaven hired two leaders from within the System to join his staff.

David Daniel, the current president of UT-Dallas and previous candidate for president of UT-Austin, will start in the newly created roles of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in a statement. “He is a respected voice on the needs and benefits of higher education to the state of Texas, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to propel an institution forward on a magnificent trajectory. Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

Steven Leslie, who held the positions of provost and executive vice president from 2007–2013, will become the System’s executive vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Leslie, also a current pharmacy professor and researcher at UT-Austin, started his time at the University as an assistant professor in 1974. During his six years as executive vice president and provost, Leslie helped to lay the foundation for the Dell Medical School and oversee the financial aid and registrar offices, both while working with the deans of all 20 colleges.

“My top priorities are to work with and support and facilitate the priorities of the University of Texas at Austin … to work with and support the programmatic needs of all of the University of Texas System academic institutions and to build a strong partnership and working relationship between academic affairs and health affairs to have a strong structure for medical schools reporting through academic campuses,” Leslie said.

Leslie said he believes his experience as provost will be helpful while he works to support the initiatives of all the different campuses. Additionally, Leslie said he wants to further explore the possibilities of adding more health programs to other campuses.

“The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley is establishing a medical school, and it has that same structure [as UT-Austin],” Leslie said. “That makes it important to work on establishing new relationships and processes and procedures to support these two medical schools that report through the academic campuses and perhaps think about if there are other campuses that could benefit from the same time.”

UT alumni Patrick Creamer and Quinn Buckner are the hosts of Now You Know A Little Bit More About Us, a weekly podcast made up of improvised antics. In the future, the pair plans to get more listener involvement in their shows.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Space exploration and high seas adventures are common topics of conversation between UT alumni Patrick Creamer and Quinn Buckner. Once a week, they set up their microphones and record random stories for their podcast, Now You Know A Little Bit More About Us.

“It’s an outlet for us to express our friendship and funny ideas that come to mind,” Buckner said. “We’re also producing content that people find enjoyable, and that’s always fun to do — to bring joy to someone.” 

Self-proclaimed “fast friends,” Creamer and Buckner met at an improvisation show in 2013. After Creamer invited Buckner to be on his podcast Thirsty Pizza, their on-air chemistry encouraged them to make a new podcast in October 2014. 

The two typically get together in one of their apartments to record the roughly 45-minute-long shows, which is available on iTunes and podcast-hosting sites, such as Stitcher and Libsyn. They write down a few talking points before the show, but, once the mics turn on, they let the conversation go wherever it may lead. After chatting for a bit, they improvise a story about cop chases, battling a worldwide flood or anything in between. They round out the show with some freestyle rapping. 

As improvisers in Austin, the two are used to transforming random ideas into full-blown stories. 

“It’s very freeing just having a chance to get up on stage or in a room with some people and mess around,” Creamer said. “It’s like being back in kindergarten trying to keep a balloon up in the air with a group of people. It’s fun that you feel like you’re not allowed to have anymore.”

The two first got into the improvising scene when they joined Gigglepants, a UT student improv group. When Buckner, who graduated in 2011, isn’t working as a software engineer downtown, he teaches improv classes and performs at Austin’s Hideout Theatre. 

Creamer, who graduated in 2014, started performing stand-up comedy and improv shows in Austin in college and continues to perform today. Now an engineer at Chatsworth Products, Creamer said being an improviser and creating the podcast help balance out his technical life.

“Mechanical engineering is a lot of problem solving, and it feels like improv and the podcast are chances to not worry so much,” Creamer said. “It adds some freedom to my life.”

Shannon Cloud, radio-television-film sophomore and Gigglepants member, said she first met Creamer her freshman year while auditioning for improv groups on campus and has taken classes at the Hideout Theater with Buckner. As a frequent listener, she said the podcast does not differ much from a typical conversation with the pair.

“It’s really fun, and they’re all over the place,” Cloud said. “I think what makes Patrick and Quinn great improvisers is that they heighten the thing that’s weird. They’re really good listeners, and they pair well together.”

The duo hasn’t known each other for very long, but Cloud said that’s what makes the podcast entertaining.

“I feel like some podcasts, if people are too good of friends, it’s hard for the audience to stay interested because they have so many inside jokes,” Cloud said. “With them, it’s easier for the audience to get to know them because they’re getting to know each other.”

Since they began in October, Buckner and Creamer have created 13 podcast episodes. They said for future shows, they hope to get more fan involvement and have people recommend discussion topics.

“The main goal of this is to bring laughter to people and make them feel good in some capacity,” Buckner said. “It could be by making stupid jokes or making a story that is interesting — or making people laugh at how bad I am at freestyle [rapping].”

Griffon Ramsey wields her chain saw among her recent creations in her East Austin studio. Ramsey uses chain saws and various other woodworking tools to carve intricate sculptures from wood.
Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Cascades of flying wood chips and sounds of chain saws grinding against wood are common sights and sounds in Austin artist Griffon Ramsey’s downtown studio.

Ramsey makes a living carving elaborate sculptures out of wood she finds scattered throughout Texas. Since she started woodcarving in 2011, she’s created a YouTube channel — which currently has more than 60,000 subscribers — where fans can see how she turns large pieces of bark into recognizable icons of pop culture, such as Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Bender from “Futurama.”

A 2008 graduate from Texas State University, Ramsey studied theater and worked as a set designer. In fall 2011, she decided to use her skills working with lightweight material on wood through chain-saw sculpting. Before starting, however, she had to learn to handle the potentially dangerous tool and how to work with her new medium. 

“I had never used [a chain saw] before, so it was a scary learning curve to get over the fear of it,” Ramsey said. “I also had to learn about wood, sculpture and kind of all of it.”

New carvings sit among some of the earliest works in Griffon Ramsey's East Austin studio. 

Ramsey said chain-saw carving has fascinated her ever since she was a kid. As she began learning the trade, seeing the work of woodcarver R. L. Blair, who’s credited for carving more than 150 statues found throughout Disney theme parks, played a huge part in getting her started in woodcarving as an adult.

“She stopped by one day and eventually she started to carve periodically,” Blair said. “She’s a sweet, young lady who’s good at what she does.”

Ramsey carves the majority of her work at the FORT, a warehouse art studio that she shares with other artists. She said she enjoys using wood as a medium despite its heaviness and unstable nature.

“Wood is finicky — it cracks, and holes, and other surprises like bugs,” Ramsey said. “I’ve been focusing on wood because I want to get better as a carver. I do plan to incorporate other materials and collaborate with different artists who work with metals and glass.”

Ramsey, a former production designer for Austin production company Rooster Teeth, uses her editing skills to create videos that highlight the process behind each individual carving.

Her videos aren’t just paint-by-numbers explanations about how she makes the sculptures. She also explains the motivations behind each piece. In one video, she creates a sculpture of Elsa from the Disney film “Frozen” while explaining how her daughter’s love for the character and her appreciation of the growing trend of animated films featuring strong, female characters inspired her.

Griffon Ramsey uses a chainsaw to work on a project.

Although Ramsey originally planned to use her channel as a place to experiment with a wide range of art forms, it remains a home for her carved creations more than anything else.

“My idea was that every video would be different techniques and different materials depending on whatever I was making,” Ramsey said. “But then I started using the chain saw, and I just fell in love with it.”

Ramsey works actively to increase the channel’s popularity by creating sculptures based on fan requests. She said the channel helps her sell her art, which she puts up for auction on her website,

“I’ve had carvings, after the videos go up, sell within five minutes,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said she hopes she can transition to larger projects and public art for the City of Austin.

“I just hope I get better and do larger scale projects,” Ramsey said. “The nice thing about carving is that you can do large scale relatively quickly.”

UTPD: Student assaulted near campus

A University of Texas student was assaulted Tuesday evening close to campus. 

The assault occurred in West Campus around 6:10 p.m., according to an alert sent out to students from the University of Texas Police Department. 
A female student said another woman punched her in the face. The assaulter is said to have short black hair, wearing a yellow shirt and blue shorts while toting a black backpack and burnt orange rolling suitcase. 
The case is still under investigation, according to UTPD spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon. 
UTPD has asked anyone who sees a woman matching this description to call them or 911 with her whereabouts.