UPDATE: SXSW 2014 Issues Statement on Tragic Deaths During Festival

SXSW

Unidentified man, reportedly driving impaired, is arrested, to be charged with two murders and 23 aggravated assaults.

 By Blurt Staff

UPDATE: Spin is reporting that the driver of the car has now been identified by police as Rashad Owens and that a “fund has also been set up to help people affected by the event. Visit sxswcares.com for more information.”

 In the wake of the tragic deaths and multiple injuries that occurred at about 12:30 a.m. Austin time this morning (March 13) as a result of a drunk driver attempting to evade police by speeding his vehicle the wrong day on 9th street, past street barricades and into a crowd near the Mohawk venue, the SXSW organizers have posted an official response:

The statement reads, “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. Please watch sxsw.com and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.”

Additionally, SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson posted his own statement: “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.”

The attendee referenced in Swenson’s statement has been identified as 35-year old Steven Craenmehr, creative director of the agency Massive Music, according to SPIN . The other fatality was a woman on a moped, and the man riding with her is reportedly in critical condition; 22 others were injured. During the incident the drunk driver hit Craenmehr’s bicycle, the moped, a van and a taxi, eventually stopping and jumping out of his car to run before being Tasered and captured by police.

 

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