Photos, Video: Fleeing Drunk Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Over 20 injured in crash at South by Southwest festival

 

 
 
 

CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press | | Thursday, March 13, 2014

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Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Two dead and over 20 injured.
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A man and woman were killed early Thursday after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street, police said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said 23 others were injured, five critically, in the crash that happened around 12:30 a.m. as the driver tried to evade a pursuing police officer. The two people who died were on a moped that the motorist hit. The chief said the man also hit pedestrians in front of a club that was emptying.

Acevedo told reporters during a news conference that the motorist also struck a cab before crashing, jumping out of his car and trying to run. A pursuing officer shocked him with a stun gun and took him into custody.

The man, whose name was not released, faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

The accident stunned revelers at the annual music, film and interactive conference that draws tens of thousands to Austin each year. Many were getting real-time reports from social media.

The street was full of concert-goers just minutes earlier, but officials had cleared the area because it is a fire lane.

"We had a large crowd," Acevedo said at a 2:30 a.m. news conference. "I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk or this could have been a lot worse."

Acevedo did not identify the driver or the victims and asked witnesses and those who may have taken video to contact police rather than post it to the Internet. All the injured were taken to area hospitals.

Police said the man pulled into a nearby gas station in a silver Toyota sedan after an officer working a drunken-driving patrol tried to stop him. He wove his way through a series of parked cars, then took off at high speed the wrong way down a one-way street. He took a right turn on Red River Street, crashing through a barricade and narrowly missing a police officer who was standing guard.

He hit some of the victims in front of The Mohawk, a local club hosting Spin events during the five-day music conference. He continued down the street where he struck and killed the two victims on the moped and then hit the cab before finally crashing.

Officers had closed off a two-block section of downtown Austin and continued to investigate into the morning. Acevedo said there were no plans to change safety protocols at the festival due to the accident.

"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," Acevedo said.

___

Associated Press writer Andale Gross in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

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Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

A bystander and a police officer tend to a man who was struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

People perform CPR on a woman after she was struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Bystanders assist first responders at the scene at SXSW festival in Austin, TX early Thursday morning March 13, 2014 where 2 people died and dozens more were injured after a hit and run. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Colin Kerrigan)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Bystanders tend to a man who was struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

The crowd scatters seconds after several pedestrians were struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people have died after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Bystanders react after several people were struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

People perform CPR on a woman after she was struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Her condition is unknown. Police say two people have died after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Unidentified people are comforted after being struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

A patient is carried away after being struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

A man is transported to an ambulance after being struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

People are treated after being struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people were confirmed dead at the scene after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Bystanders and a police officers move a person who was struck by a car on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Paramedics transport a person who was struck by a car on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

Bystanders and a paramedics tend to people who were struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

People carry a person who was struck by a car on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

People walk away after the accident on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, that left two dead at SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say a man and woman have been killed after a suspected drunken driver fleeing from arrest crashed through barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck the pair and others on a crowded street. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)


Gallery 1

Driver Strikes Crowd at Austin Festival

A man checks the condition of a man in the street after he was struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Police say two people have died after a car drove through temporary barricades set up for the South By Southwest festival and struck a crowd of pedestrians. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)



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