Two festival-goers are dead and 23 people were injured after a drunk driver, who was trying to flee police, crashed his car into a crowd of people at last night’s SXSW festival, according to the Austin Police department.
According to local police, of the 23 injured, 5 are in a critical critical condition and have been taken to local hospitals. The incident happened outside the Mohawk at at 9th and Red River around 12:30 a.m. local time.
The drink driver has been taken into custody and will be facing two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, said: “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.”
Update: A statement from the festival organisers has been issued.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin.
“We appreciate and commend the first responders, as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action.
“We will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night’s events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled.
A statement from festival director Roland Swenson has also been made:
“The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night.
“Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with APD to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street.
“To avoid confusion we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time.
“All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.
“We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors.
“Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. As much as we would like to just go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue to operate today.
“One of the fatalities was a SXSW registrant, a gentleman from the Netherlands.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.”