A few updates: It was previously reported that both of the deceased were riding a moped when the driver struck their vehicle. However, one of the victims (a Dutch man) was actually riding a bicycle, and the woman (an Austin local) was on the moped, and the man riding with her is in critical condition. Eight people are still in the hospital. SXSW will continue, and the festival has released an official statement, which you can find at the bottom of this post, along with statements from Vans and our parent company SpinMedia (which was hosting several events at Mohawk this week).
Some awful news out of Austin today (March 13). A man and a woman were killed early this morning when a car fleeing police drove into a crowd of SXSW attendees. The motorist, who was suspected of driving while intoxicated, was stopped by police around midnight, when he sped away from cops and eventually plowed through a barricade and onto a street filled with pedestrians outside of Mohawk, on Red River St. & 10th St. In addition to the two adults who were killed while riding a moped, twenty-three people were injured, five critically.
After driving through the crowd, the man eventually hit a cab and crashed, at which point he fled on foot and was shocked with a stun gun and arrested. He has been charged with two counts of capital murder (which could mean the death penalty if he’s convicted) and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle. Names of the deceased and the driver have not been released yet.
According to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, safety protocols for the remainder of the festival will not be altered. (For anyone who hasn’t been there, numerous streets in downtown Austin are blocked off to traffic and filled with pedestrians, and the barricaded streets are very clearly marked.) ”We do these events very well, but you cannot stop a person who rather than face drunk driving charges decides to speed at a high rate of speed, go around a uniformed officer forcing him to run out of the way, then at a high rate of speed show total disregard for the sanctity of human life,” Acevedo said.
The Mohawk is where House of Vans takes place over SXSW and serves as the site of several major showcases (Tyler, the Creator was set to headline a showcase around the time of the crash).
SPIN has a couple photos from the scene, below.
Red River between 9th and 10th now pic.twitter.com/Gvt8m8N0ow
— SPIN (@SPINmagazine) March 13, 2014
Red River, earlier pic.twitter.com/dYulKNvFBx
— SPIN (@SPINmagazine) March 13, 2014
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 sxsw.com and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.”
Statement from SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson:
The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night.
Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with APD to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street.
To avoid confusion we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time.
All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.
We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors.
Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. As much as we would like to just go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue to operate today.
One of the fatalities was a SXSW registrant, a gentleman from the Netherlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.”
Due to the terrible tragedy in Austin last night, the day time event scheduled at The Mohawk has been cancelled. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Today, Vans grieves alongside everyone in the city of Austin at South by Southwest for the innocent lives taken last night on Red River St. We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy.
We are sincerely thankful for the immediate response and care given to those affected by dedicated Austin professionals. The entire Vans family mourns for those lost and holds all those injured in our thoughts.
The Austin Police Department has asked for any witnesses to please come forward with reports or personal video taken. You can reach their department at (512) 974-5186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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