Deadly Hit and Run Accident Leaves Two Dead at SXSW

Suspected drunk driver plows into crowd injuring 23 people.

Posted: 03/13/2014 05:55 PM EDT
Filed Under Music News, SXSW

UPDATE: South by Southwest is continuing mostly as scheduled, following a fatal hit-and-run that occured in the early morning hours, Thursday (March 13).

"As much as we want to go home and absorb the shock of this event," the festival will go on, co-founder and managing director, Ronald Swenson said, according to Billboard.   "We feel we have an obligation to the people who have traveled here from all over the world."

However, he added, it is up to individual establishments to decide how to proceed. One of the venues, the Mowhawk, located on the same block of the scene of the accident has canceled a performance showcase scheduled for Thursday night.

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens. The names of the victims have yet to be released, although more details reveal that the two fatalities were not traveling with each other, rather the woman was aboard a moped, and the man was riding a bike. Of the five who were hospitalized as "critically injured" Thursday morning, two are still in "very critical condition," and three are considered "seriously injured." 

PREVIOUSLY: A night of fun for music lovers at the South by Southwest festival turned deadly after a man trying to evade police arrest plowed into concertgoers exiting a nightclub. The fatal accident left a man and woman dead and injured up to 23 others. 

According to the Associated Press, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo reports that the incident occurred around 12:30 a.m. Thursday (March 13) when a checkpoint officer was attempting to pull the drunken motorist over. Instead of accepting punishment then, however, the motorist sped off, killing the man and woman, who were on a moped, and critically injuring five of the 23 pedestrians he struck. He then hit a cab, crashed, jumped out the car and ran.

He was taken into custody after a pursuing officer hit him with a stun gun.

The motorist now faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

"We had a large crowd," Acevedo said at a presss conference. "I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk or this could have been a lot worse.... 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."

The annual music festival is one of the music industry's most attended, attracting approximately 50,000 people last year.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)

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