An unfortunate tragedy occurred at Austin, Texas’ SXSW Music Festival as a drunk driver struck a crowd of people. The incident left two people dead and over 20 injured, five of them critically.
The driver, who has yet to be identified, was reportedly under the influence and attempting to escape police when he crashed into a throng of people outside of The Mohawk, a popular venue during SXSW.
“Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said officers initially tried to pull over the driver at a gas station on the Interstate 35 service road. The driver fled the wrong way down Ninth Street, which is a one-way street, and turned onto Red River, hitting pedestrians at a “high rate of speed.”
“Acevedo said the driver hit a man and a woman on a moped, a taxi and a van before stopping the vehicle and fleeing on foot. The driver was eventually tased and taken into custody. The two people on the moped were killed.” [KVUE]
We have a long, long history with SXSW, having been one of the first “rap blogs” to host a showcase there several years ago. Yearly, we make our annual trek to see artists, shows and friends. For those who’ve never been, the city almost shuts down its downtown area so festival-goers can roam the streets by the thousands and it’s an experience like no other. Out of the five or six years I’ve normally attended, I’ve never seen anything remotely negative happen. No shootings, no fights, no anything that could be considered a negative.
To see and hear it marred by an accident like this truly brings an unhappy feeling. I didn’t attend this year – Beware, Julie and AJ are there – but late last night, I was scrolling through my IG while smoking a cig and noticed Tyler, The Creator inviting fans to The Mohawk, promising a selected few guaranteed entry if they made it by a designated time.
Knowing his sway over Odd Future fans, I smiled and thought “that street is going to be bananas.” Not only that, but also I know friends from over at Vans were hosting shows at The Mohawk for the next few days.
I can imagine that crowd after having been outside many a show, enjoying standing around in the sea of people as much as being inside to see a show. It’s part of the complete experience and probably can’t be duplicated anywhere else. I can also hear SockyTX, the YouTube user whose voice is heard in the video below, states “people down every 10 feet” and think of how horrific the scene had to be.
Even more, I realize that those people who made their way to 9th and Red River could be friends of personal friends of ours. Even if they weren’t people we knew, they were people like all of us – you included – who went to SX to “keep Austin weird” over the rest of this week. My hopes moving forward are that everyone – from friends and fellow festival attendees to the police and city officials – does all they can to keep Austin not just weird, but safe, too.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone there.