SXSW Tragedy: Suspected Drunk Driver Kills 2, Injures 23

This story has been corrected from 10:57 a.m. EST Thursday to state that only one of the two people on the moped was killed and the other fatality was a pedestrian. Event cancellations was also clarified. See our separate update published Friday for victim information. 

AUSTIN (TheStreet) -- Tyler the Creator is known for wild, even dangerous stage antics and his fans eat it up. But no one could have anticipated his fans becoming victims of a tragic horror show in Austin last night.

Police are saying this morning that two people are dead and 23 injured, five critically, when a car slammed through a crowd outside the Mohawk, a club at 912 Red River Street at 12:30 a.m., where Tyler was scheduled for a 1 a.m. show.

According to press reports, a suspected drunk driver was trying to elude police and crashed through a barricade that had blocked traffic to the street, hitting pedestrians as he drove through the crowd. He kept going, for two blocks, striking others and hitting a couple on a moped and killing one of them before crashing at a corner. The driver got out and fled the scene. Police say they caught him, subdued him with Taser and took him into custody.

He'll be charged with two counts of murder among other charges.

A more complete briefing by police on the incident is expected at 11:30 a.m. EST.

Here covering the music portion of the festival for TheStreet, I was in a small club about nine blocks away when the accident happened, watching a different performance by Brooklyn vocalist and electronics artist Tei Shi. That ended early enough that I thought I might be able catch the Tyler the Creator show. I arrived on the accident scene at Red River Street a little before 1 a.m.

The Mohawk sits in the outer part of the network of downtown streets that make up the festival, but within the barricades that turn those streets into a pedestrian mall. The crowds through that section of Red River Street were much heavier not long before, but coincidentally, police had cleared the street because it is a fire lane. Had they not done that, the tragedy could have been far worse.

Festival goers on the whole have been far less aggressive, more friendly and more polite than New Yorkers might expect. They observe rules and courtesies. People here will wait for the light to change, for instance, even if traffic is light enough to permit them to cross. They don't do that in the neighborhood of TheStreet offices on Wall Street.

Plus, there's a natural bond between attendees that permeates the festival. Conversations with complete strangers start over nothing. People stop to help each other find their way around or to just get to know one another for a few minutes before moving on. That camaraderie makes an accident like last night's that much harder to understand.

In the crowded street at 1 a.m., watching emergency personnel load victims onto stretchers, most of the people I met were stunned.

But the festival moved on. Affected venues, including the Mohawk, were closed and Tyler the Creator's show was cancelled. Most other events went on as scheduled.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Austin, Texas

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