SXSW 2014: Three Dead, Twenty-three Injured in a Mowing Incident
The supposedly fun event, South by Southwest (SXSW) turned out a disaster as a suspected drunk driver mowed the crowd, killing two people and leaving 23 pedestrians injured, five of which are on critical state.
The disastrous event happened on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 12:30 a.m. (Austin, Texas time). The police said that it all started when a police officer started checking for driving while intoxicated or DWI. The suspect, who was later identified as Rashad Charjuan Owens, fearing for arrest, tried to escape with his silver Toyota sedan. He headed into a wrong way, passing on a one-way street. The officer chased after Owens, but the offender sped off. A second officer in a nearby post went out of the way to avoid being hit by Owens. He further increased his speed and drove through the barricade and struck the pedestrians. However, the chase did not stop here as Owens managed to drive off after two blocks before hitting two pedestrians, a man and a woman, and a taxi.
The woman has not been identified yet, but the man, according to the Rolling Stone report, was recognized as Steven Craenmehr, 35, a Dutch employee of MassiveMusic.
According to NBC News, the Austin Police Department confirmed that 26-year-old Sandy Thuy Le is the third victim of the car crash at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival who died from her injuries.
APD is keeping the friends & family of Sandy Thuy Le, DOB 10-22-87, in our prayers. Le is the 3rd victim to die in last week’s #swsxcrash.
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 17, 2014
21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens from Killeen, Texas is being held on $3 million bond. Owens is also known by his stage name KillingAllBeatz or K.A.B254, and he has six children. He is charged with two counts of capital murder and several counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.
Meanwhile, Lt. Brian Moon of Austin Police Department told the Rolling Stone that an incident like this is extremely unusual. He went on that there have been cases like this in the past, but this was the first time that it affected a SXSW event.
Statesman.com was able to reach the suspect’s grandmother in South Carolina. Although she refused to be named, the elderly said that Owens is good and that the incident was out of his control.
In lieu of the unfortunate events, the SXSW organizers have released a statement on Thursday: “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,” stated the organizers in the Rolling Stone report.
The SXSW’s events schedule for film was from March 7 to 15, 2014. For the interactive events, it was from March 7 to 11, 2014 and for the music events, it was held from March 11 to 16, 2014. Hopefully, the next SXSW will be much safer for everyone involved, including the audience, performers, organisers and even bystanders.
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