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Tragedy Strikes the SXSW Festival Overnight, Leaving Two Dead and Many Injured

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | March 13, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | March 13, 2014 |

As those of us on staff who attended the SXSW festival this year made our ways home yesterday, and the SXSW festival turned its focus from film to movies, tragedy struck early this morning as a drunk driver fleeing from the police drove into a large crowd, killing two and leaving as many as 23 injured, some very seriously.

Here’s the report from the Austin Chronicle:

The tragedy that played out on Red River St., just outside the Mohawk and during the first full day of the SXSW Music conference, stunned fest goers who were ushered away from the area by public safety officials who quickly shut down Red River St. from East 9th to East 12th Sts. just after 12:30 am Thursday. The intersection at East 10th St. was littered with debris, the pavement in places striped with blood, as first responders worked to treat the wounded. Two people were killed and five are considered critical; the rest have been classified as mild or “walking wounded,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told a gaggle of reporters just before 2:30 am. Acevedo said the incident started when police working DWI patrol in the area sought to stop a man driving a car near the Shell gas station on the southbound service road of IH-35 at East 9th St. Instead of stopping, the driver of the small imported sedan maneuvered through the gas station lot, around the other cars there, in order to evade the police. The driver then pulled out of the gas station traveling west, accelerating “at a high rate of speed, going the wrong way on a one-way street,” Acevedo said.

The officer followed, turned on the lights of his police car and “tried to overtake” the vehicle, Acevedo said, but the driver still did not stop. Instead the man turned right, northbound onto Red River St., driving around a police-manned barricade set up to block traffic during SXSW.

The driver continued speeding up the street, past the Mohawk, striking “multiple pedestrians,” Acevedo said. At East 11th St., the man struck a moped with a man and woman on it, killing them both, he said. The driver also struck a taxi before crashing his car into a van parked at the northwest corner of Red River and East 11th Sts. The man then fled from the scene on foot; police chased him, used a taser to subdue him, and arrested him, Acevedo said.

It was a grisly scene, according to witness accounts on Twitter, with multiple people bleeding onto the streets, and others trying to help their friends up and get them medical assistance. It’s a really unfortunate incident, and of course there’s no one to blame but the asshole drunk who decided to flee from the police, who we understand could potentially face the death penalty, as the suspect will be charged with two counts of capital murder (and it is Texas, after all).

Prayers and thoughts go out to the families of the deceased, and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

Here’s heart wrenching footage from the scene, featuring many injured and being tended to by medical professionals.


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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