Magazine article Screen International

Two Killed in SXSW Car Crash

Magazine article Screen International

Two Killed in SXSW Car Crash

Article excerpt

UPDATE: Police have confirmed that two people - one from the Netherlands - died after a car drove into a crowd of pedestrians at the South By Southwest festival.

The fatal crash, in which a driver smashed through temporary barricades set up for the film and music festival in Austin, Texas, occurred around 12.30am on Thursday.

Austin chief of police Art Axecedo said the two victims were pronounced dead at the scene. They were initially reported by police to be an adult male and an adult female who had been riding a moped struck by the vehicle.

A follow-up press conference at 10.30am in Austin revealed that a local female was pronounced dead on the moped while the male, originally from the Netherlands, was on a bicycle.

"We owe it to the victims and their families to gather the evidence we need to bring them justice," said Axecedo. (Scroll down for full statement)

Travis County Emergency Medical Services worked with 25 patients, including the two deceased and five who were in critical condition.

The incident took place outside The Mohawk, a bar and live music venue, after a driver in a silver Toyota drove through the intersection of 9th Street and Red River Street, according to the Austin Police Department.

Acevedo said the driver will be charged with two counts of capital murder, as well as 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

He stated: "You cannot stop a person that decides rather than face potential drunk driving charges, at a high rate of speed, shows total disregard for human life. That's why we will be charging two counts of capital murder."

At a press conference, Acevedo and Austin Fire Department chief of staff Harry Evans said the incident began when a police officer attempted to stop a car on the intersection of I-35 and 9th.

The driver weaved through a Shell gas station and then drove into oncoming traffic on 9th Street. When police attempted to overtake the vehicle, the driver turned down Red River Street at a high rate of speed before smashing through barricades on Red River Street and striking multiple pedestrians.

The chase ended after the driver crashed into a parked van, after which he exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. A police officer managed to overtake him on foot and tasered him before taking the suspect into custody.

Acevedo added: "Nothing like this has happened at SXSW in the seven years [I've] been chief officer."

Sharing information on Twitter, the Austin Police Department said: "Individual is in custody. More details shortly. The names of the deceased will not be released until proper notifications have been made."

Putting out a call for more information, it added: "If you witnessed, have video/photos of the incident @ Red River call (512) 974-5186. Do not tie this line up for any other reason."

More information on the investigation will be released at 3pm on Thursday, according to police.Full statement

Art Axecedo, Austin chief of police

This morning at about 12.30am, a member of the Austin Police Department in a marked patrol unit working on overtime detail that we call Step here in Texas, looking for DWI drivers - people driving under the influence - initiated a traffic stop at the Shell gas station right up here on the southbound 35 frontage road at 9th Street.

The sole suspect driver of that vehicle, when the officer initiated the stop, turned on his turn station, very calmly drove into that gas station. …

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