Fatal 'vehicular assault' mars SXSW 2014

Driver speeds into crowd waiting outside club; 2 dead, 23 inured

March 13, 2014

In the space of seconds early Thursday morning, the massive party at SXSW 2014 turned tragic with the bloodiest accident to mar the music, film, and technology festival’s 27-year history.

According to reports from the Austin Police Department and local media, a driver trying to evade a drunk driving stop sped past a barricade and plowed into a large crowd of festival attendees waiting to get into a club called Mohawk following a set by L.A. punk legends X and preceding a performance by rapper Tyler the Creator. (The club is on Red River Street, the busy stretch of Austin’s music district after the adjoining Sixth Street.)

The Toyota struck several vehicles, including a scooter; the man and woman riding that vehicle were pronounced dead on the scene, according to police. Twenty-three others were hurt when the vehicle struck them before finally coming to a stop; the injured were taken to three area hospitals, five of them in critical condition.

The driver tried to continue fleeing on foot before he was tasered by police. Police say he will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. Neither his name nor those of his victims have yet been released, but police announced a news briefing for 10:30 a.m. Central.

As befits an event known for cutting-edge technology, dozens of pictures and eyewitness accounts of the incident have spread via social media, and police have set up a specific number for people to call if they have pictures, video or information about this situation.

Tweeted Austin police chief Art Acevedo: “Thoughts & prayers go out to the victims of tonight’s tragedy & their families. Thank you to all the witnesses that stayed on scene.”

For more information as it breaks, visit KUT.org, the Web site for WBEZ’s public radio sister station in Austin.