Monday, March 17, 2014

Drunk Driver Kills 2 People At SXSW Music Festival

A 21-year-old suspected drunk driver at an Austin, Texas music festival killed two people and seriously injured 23 others. The police identified the suspect as Rashad Charjuan Owens, and will charge him with two counts of capital murder. He also faces 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle.

Pablo Vasquez was one of the fortunate ones who survived a close call. He said, “The car barely missed me… I was less than a foot away. I saw some folks die.” Vazquez said the suspect drove right past him.

Twenty-three people were hospitalized with multiple injuries. Dr. Christopher Ziebell, medical director at the University Medical Center Brackenridge emergency department said it was lucky the tragedy took place near the hospital. 15 of the 23 injured have been released, two patients remain in critical condition, three are in serious condition, and three remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

                                 Photograph of emergency responders at the scene (AP/Austin American-Statesman)

Police noticed Owens driving the wrong direction on a one-way street. An officer tried to stop the driver near a gas station. Owens was about to pull into the gas station, but changed his mind and sped down the street. He accelerated for two blocks, running into pedestrians and vehicles.

After a foot chase, an officer tasered Owens. The horrific scene lasted about one minute, but the damage was unfathomable. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “We owe it to the victims and their families to gather the evidence we need to bring them justice.”

The SXSW music festival organizers sent out thoughts and prayers to the victims and everyone affected. They also stated “we will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night’s events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled.”

Driving under the influence can have disastrous consequences. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, there are numerous credible addiction treatment centers that can help. Recovery is possible, you don’t have to wait for dire consequences to change your life.

We learned today, shortly after publishing our post, that another victim has died as a result of injuries suffered during this incident. 
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