Two People Killed and Many Injured as Car Plows Into Crowd at South by Southwest Festival
Update 5PM ET: A few key facts in our original story have been changed to reflect new information that has surfaced since the initial reports of the incident. Included among those is the identity of the suspect and a clarification about the two people who were killed.
Horrific news to report out of the popular South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, when a driver attempting to avoid a drunk driving stop smashed through a barricade and plowed into a crowd waiting to get into one of the many venues taking parking in the festival. More than 20 pedestrians were injured outside the Mohawk nightclub and two people traveling on a scooter were killed.
According to the Austin-based website statesman.com, the street where the tragedy occurred is packed with many of the clubs taking part in SXSW and is closed off to traffic during the festival. At around 12:30AM Thursday (March 13), a man driving a Toyota evaded a stop at a gas station, and drove for more than two blocks on the closed-off street, injuring a number of festival goers on the sidewalk, then killing a man on a bicycle and woman on a moped before injuring two more people when he hit a taxi, and finally crashing into a parked van. The deceased man has been identified as Dutch musician and music agency employee Steven Craenmehr.
The suspect, now identified as 21-year-old Rashad Owens, fled on foot but was taken down by a Taser gun by police and apprehended.
All told, in addition to the two deaths, 23 people were injured including five critically. The scene was filled with people lying in the streets as fellow festival goers attempted to come to their aid.
The legendary punk band X was playing inside the Mohawk nightclub at the time of the tragedy. The SXSW Festival is a massively popular gathering of music, movies and technology. While featuring indie and alternative acts, there are also several hard rock and metal showcases through out the festival.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, as well as those being treated in area hospitals,” said Austin Mayor Leffingwell said in a statement. “The Austin Police department is investigating this matter as allegedly involving drunk driving. If this is true, this fact angers me. Drunk driving is never acceptable, and can lead to deadly consequences.”
The driver will face capital murder charges and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, according to Austin’s police chief, Art Acevedo.
Our thoughts go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. A video report on the incident can be seen below (warning: there are some graphic images), while a police report can be seen here.
Video Report on SXSW Tragedy [Some Graphic Images]