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 thestatesman.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 and woman on a scooter before injuring two more people when he hit a taxi, and finally crashing into a parked van. The suspect 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]