Two Killed, Several Injured in Hit and Run at SXSW

The Atlantic Wire

According to eyewitness reports, a grey sedan traveling at high speed smashed through barricades outside a venue at South By Southwest in Austin, critically injuring multiple people and causing at least two fatalities.

The accident occurred outside the Mohawk nightclub, which has canceled the rest of its slate for the night.

SXSW always leads to heavy foot traffic as concert-goers wander from venue to venue. The metal barricades are the type usually in place to control line flow, not prevent vehicle traffic. The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. Central time. A police press conference is scheduled for 2 a.m.

Update: According to officials, 23 bystanders were injured in the accident -- ten were taken to the hospital and five of those are in critical condition. The man and woman killed in the hit-and-run were riding a motorized scooter.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the driver of the car was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, then sped away from police, drove the wrong way down a one-way street and eventually plowed into the crowd. Police were able to stop him with a stun gun on the scene and he is currently in custody, facing two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle. 

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During a late-night press conference, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wholly blamed the motorist for the deaths, saying "There is only one person responsible for this, someone with no regard for the sanctity of life," adding, "Our focus is on gathering evidence and seeking justice for the people who lost their lives." Fire officials added that they were able to respond quickly because "we had resources for events just like this." 

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell issued a statement early Thursday:

Austin Police Department is investigating this matter as allegedly involving drunk driving. If this is true, this fact angers me. Drunk driving is never acceptable, and can lead to deadly consequences.

Shocked eyewitnesses described the horrific scene to reporters. Jay Luna, 21, was waiting in line outside the Mohawk and told the LA Times that he narrowly avoided being hit. ""I saw bodies fly into the air, and there was blood and it was unbelievable... It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen in my entire life." He added, "I don't know how anyone didn't hear it. We were right there and all of a sudden, boom, a car hit several people. It was going so fast." 

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Another onlooker, Pablo Vazquez, told CNN that "The car barely missed me ... I was less than a foot away.... I saw some folks die. It kept moving forward, swerving to hit victims and and even ramming into a taxi at one point." 

Tyler, the Creator, who was headlining the event at the Mohawk on Wednesday night, posted on Twitter that the show had been cancelled due to the tragic event. 

This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/03/multiple-fatalities-hit-and-run-sxsw/359120/

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