Crowds Pack SXSW Streets Near Deadly Crash Scene
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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – A deadly crash doesn’t seem to be slowing down the South by Southwest Festival, in Austin. Two people were killed and more than 20 injured, when an alleged drunk driver plowed into a crowd of concertgoers Wednesday night.
Festival organizers promised they wouldn’t let the incident stop the show and in many aspects it’s now business as usual.
Crowds have been packing venues along Red River Street, where the crash happened. A memorial for the victims and their families sits among the throngs of people.
And while the show goes on — the mood is a little somber, with some people explaining that the music helps them cope.
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Once again music echoes throughout downtown Austin. “The show must go on,” festival attendee Ryan Gray said, adding, “I think everyone is walking around with a heavy heart. It’s just unreal that that happened.”
Rashad Owens has been arraigned and formally charged with one count of Capital Murder. Police say the 21-year-old is the person who intentionally plowed into the group at South by Southwest.
Owens is from Killeen, but was in Austin with friends. He’s a rapper and, according to close family friends, was partying and drinking at SXSW.
Owens bail has been set at $3 million.
Attendee Zia Lyle believes the crash is making people reconsider getting behind the wheel after leaving the bars. “It took something this big to make people think about drunk driving. I think people should think about it everyday of the year.”
Many SXSW festivalgoers have walked past the crash memorial.
Matt Gilly made plans to be at a bar on Red River the night of the crash. “I was here that night and left because the line was too long.”
Gilly said it’s hard not to think about the victims and their families, but he’s glad the festival wasn’t canceled. “Its kind of one of those things where its carry on, but we definitely want to remember those that this happened to. It’s sad.”
Jennifer Ruiz, who has been attending the festival, lives in Austin. “This is my hometown, so I don’t want anyone to leave hurt [while] visiting. We are a very friendly city. Anytime something like this happens your heart goes out to the families.”
To help festivalgoers cope, the Red Cross opened an emotional support center several blocks from the crash scene. Counselors have been helping a lot of younger people deal with the shock and sadness.
Bill Dorman, with the Central Texas Red Cross, thinks SXSW visitors are asking themselves a lot of questions. “What is the appropriate thing to do in the middle of this great big wonderful party when something horrible like this happens? Should we stop the party? Should we go on?” he questioned, and then added, “I’m not sure anybody knows the answer.”
Six people remain hospitalized – with two in critical condition.
Officials with the City of Austin say there has been more than $33,000 raised, in just 24 hours, to help crash victims and their families.
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