A car evading a police sobriety checkpoint plowed into a crowd at high speed outside a nightclub in Austin on Thursday, killing two people and injuring 23 near the SXSW festival, according to police reports. The driver fled from police and was subdued by an officer using a stun gun after the incident near the SXSW festival. He will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, police said.
The incident spanned two blocks along Red River Street — from 9th Street to 11th Street. Along the path, the car ran over a man riding a bicycle and a woman on a moped, killing them both.
As SPIN points out, this is what led to the fatal crash:
Immediately before 12:30 a.m. along Interstate 35, an Austin police officer working for a DWI unit initiated a traffic stop with the vehicle. The suspect tried to evade the officer by driving into a busy gas station, swerving through the maze of cars, and emerging on Ninth Street, where he turned the wrong way onto Red River, a closed-off one-way street.
Then the Toyota accelerated, barreling past a police-manned barricade and into more than 20 pedestrians. Rande Kamolz, a musical-artist manager who’d been on the patio at the nearby Mohawk bar, saw the car plow through the people from the balcony. “I saw people bouncing off cars,” he said. “It hit at least 20 people.”
The accident stunned those at the annual SXSW music, film and interactive conference that draws tens of thousands to Austin each year. Many were getting real-time reports of the accident from social media. Roland Swenson, the festival’s managing director, said the event would continue while SXSW representative Kelly Krause released the following statement:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin. We appreciate and commend the first responders as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action.
We will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night’s events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled. Please watch this website and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.
UPDATE: The suspect has now been identified as 21 year old male and is said to have been in Austin to perform at an East Austin venue. It is also said that he will face capital murder charges alongside 23 counts of aggravated assault. The Blood Center of Central Texas is currently urgently requesting blood donations in the wake of the crash.
UPDATE: A third fatality has now been confirmed as a result of the car accident that occurred last Wedneday during SXSW in Austin. Seven people still remain in hospital.
UPDATE: A fourth death has now been confirmed as a result from the car crash during SXSW earlier this month. According to KXAN, the victim was 18 years old.
The HYPETRAK team conveys our sincerest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.