The death toll in a tragic car accident at Austin’s South By Southwest Festival climbed to three on Monday morning. A hospital official at the University Medical Center Brackenridge told the Austin American-Statesman that Sandy Le has died. Over the weekend, she was listed in critical condition.
Of the 21 other people injured in Thursday morning’s series of crashes, six are still in the hospital. Mason Endres is the only patient at St. David’s Medical Center, and is in fair condition. The 18 year-old’s spirits were lifted on Saturday afternoon, when one of her favorite bands decided to play at her bedside.
Jared Kolesar is the lead singer of Jared & The Mill, an indie-folk band from Phoenix, Ariz. He first found out about the incident when he was denied access to his hotel. Kolesar and two band-mates were coming back from a late dinner when they discovered that the road to their hotel was blocked off.
About 10 minutes before the car crashes, two other members of the band were chatting with Mason outside of a venue where they were to perform a showcase. Then 21 year-old Rashad Owens allegedly evaded a traffic stop, plowed through barricades, and drove through a group of pedestrians. A witness described the scene to the newspaper as if a person was getting “hit like a bowling pin.”
Endres suffered a number of serious injuries, including a fractured leg, broken neck, and broken nose. Owens was later charged with one count of capital murder. His bail is set at $3 million.
After the incident, the band put the pieces together and realized their biggest fan was where the crash happened. Kolesar’s heart dropped.
“I tweeted her and she didn’t respond to me,” the lead singer recalled to us via telephone. “But her friend tweeted me back. She said that (Mason) is alive and she’s on the way to the hospital. It was nice to know she was alive but heartbreaking to hear what had happened.”
The front man admitted the band doesn’t have a huge following yet, especially in Texas. That made them even more appreciative of Mason’s support.
“She really meant a lot to us,” Kolesar said. “We said that if she can’t come to us, we gotta go to her.”
So Saturday afternoon, Jared & The Mill took the show on the road, to Mason’s hospital room at St. David’s. The American-Statesman reported that the teenager smiled and sang along to the band’s performance. But the musical cameo proved beneficial for all involved.
“It was a very powerful reaction… her family was crying. It was just very intense,” Kolesar told us. “It was so incredible to see that someone enjoys our music as much as Mason does. It’s hard to put a positive spin on something like this but it was a happy moment for all of us.”
When asked about the band’s two showcases last weekend, Kolesar said they went well. For he and the rest of the group, the real highlight of the trip and of the band’s career thus far, played out in a much more unlikely setting.