21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens has been identified as the alleged drunk driver responsible for the fatal car crash at a South By Southwest event in Austin, Texas. Austin police say they will be charging Owens with 23 counts of aggravated assault and two counts of capital murder, a charge which makes the suspect eligible for the death penalty.
A Texas woman riding on a moped and a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle were killed when the car hit a crowd of people outside House of Vans show at The Mohawk by hip-hop artist Tyler, the Creator, while 23 others were taken to hospital. Below is a list of names issued by Austin police of the known injured victims.
According to a message on MassiveMusic.com, one of the fatalities was 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr. “This is an irreplaceable loss for the MassiveMusic family and we are grateful for the years we spent with him,” the statement said. According to the Austin American-Statesman Craenmehr worked at the company for 8 years and listed his position as “creative director & sonic branding specialist” on his personal Facebook page.
Two people remain in critical condition, and three others have serious injuries and are being treated at area hospitals, Austin-Travis County EMS Chief of Staff James Shamard said in a press conference. There are no reports of any injured Australians at this point in time.
“The most critical patients I have a great deal of concern for,” said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, the emergency department director at the University Medical Center-Brackenridge told KXAN. “We are going to do our best for them, but these are some of the worst injuries that we see and not everybody with these kinds of injuries is going to survive.”
Austin police reported that after being pulled over at a gas station for driving under the influence, Owens weaved through the area and began driving in the wrong direction up a one-way street. He then turned onto Red River St and plowed through a barrier at high speed, killing two and injuring dozens of pedestrians over two blocks before hitting a taxi and a parked van. He then fled on foot, was tased, and taken into custody.
“This is an individual that committed an intentional act,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said of Owens. “An individual that’s willing to drive down a street mowing people down is either going to crash through a barricade or go around a barricade. The bottom line is when somebody is acting intentionally – and this is a person that was trying to get away – it’s very difficult to stop.”
According to KXAN, Owens has previously been charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a 2011 incident in Alaska. He was also arrested in Bell County, Texas in 2012. Police are urging anyone witnesses with video footage of the incident to step forward.
South by Southwest organisers have released a statement about the incident. “Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels,” reads the statement. “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.”
“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,” it continues. Organisers said they are contacting all of the venues to see if they have made any changes about their operations that might impact festival-goers.
UPDATE 10:21am 14/03/14: Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed the identities of the of the man and woman killed overnight at SXSW in Austin. They confirmed previous reports that the killed man was 35-year-old Netherlands national Steven Gerardus Hendrikus Craenmehr. The female fatality was identified as 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West, a resident of Austin, Texas.
Known injured victims at SXSW
Evan West, 29
Joseph McCraney, 26
Mason Endres, 18
Kartisha Davis, 18
Greg Cerna, 19
April Martinez, 29
Ryan Freeman, 20
Johannes Hailu, 39
Maria Belyvia, 20
Carolyn Grace, 19
Jeff Chenzer, 29
Ashley Easley, 20
Jacob Gallegos, 20
Erica Hall, 19
Jane Henderson, 24
William Josma, 29
Juan Leura, 20
Jaqueline Longhurst, 21
Alexis Zamarippa, 17