Tags: SXSW | accident | kills | 2 | drunk | driver

SXSW Accident Kills 2 as Suspected Drunk Driver Plows Into Crowd

Image: SXSW Accident Kills 2 as Suspected Drunk Driver Plows Into Crowd People are treated after being struck by a vehicle on Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas, during SXSW on Wednesday March 12, 2014.

By Nick Sanchez   |   Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 10:22 AM

A suspected drunk driver crashed through barricades set up for SXSW, the South By Southwest music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, plowing into a crowd of people and killing two. Nearly two dozen others were injured.

According to the Associated Press, just after midnight, the suspect was in the middle of being stopped for possible drunk driving when he fled, breaking through the barricades and speeding the wrong way down a one-way street crowded with people.

After driving into a crowd of people outside the Mohawk nightclub, the driver continued on to hit a man and a woman on a moped, who died instantly, as well as a cab and a van.

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Police apprehended the suspect, a black male adult, after a foot chase using an electric stun gun.

According to the Austin Police Department, 23 were transported to the hospital, five in critical condition, two deceased.

28-year-old Ally Hulton from Los Angeles told the Austin American Statesman that she was on a friend's balcony when she saw the car drive down the street "at full speed." Once it reached a crowd of people it appeared to accelerate, and "About 10 bodies went flying," she said.

Public Information Officer for the Austin Police Department Jermaine Kilgore told the Los Angeles Times that police attempted to pull the suspect over near a gas station near the interstate several blocks away.

“We weren’t in pursuit," he said. "We were behind the vehicle, and it happened very quickly. From the time the vehicle evaded and the time he crashed was about a minute and a half.”

Tens of thousands are drawn to the annual festival, and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the toll could have been much worse. The street was filled with people just minutes earlier, before they cleared the area to create a fire lane.

"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 said at a 2:30am news conference. Soon after, Mayor Lee Leffingwell expressed condolences.

Neither the name of the victims or the suspect have been released, and Acevedo asked witnesses who had captured photos or video of the incident to contact the department. 

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