SXSW Drunk Driving Tragedy Claims Third Victim
A hit-and-run accident during SXSW 2014 has claimed a third victim.
A spokesperson for Austin Police Department confirms that Sandy Thuy Le, a 26-year-old Mississippi native, has died as a result of the alleged drunk driving tragedy which took place early Thursday morning (March 13), killing two additional people and injuring more than 20 others.
Rolling Stone reports Le had been hospitalized at University Medical Center Brackenridge in critical condition, but was pronounced dead on Sunday (March 16).
Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, fled from police after being stopped on suspicion of DWI at a nearby gas station. A chase ensued, ending when the allegedly intoxicated driver hit a van and drove through a crowd of people waiting in line for a show at SXSW.
It is undetermined if Owens will be charged with an addition count of murder as a result of Le’s passing. “The whole case will be presented to a Travis County Grand Jury and they will determine what, if any, other charges will be added,” a spokesperson for the Austin Police Department explains.
Five people — ages ranging from 17 to 39 — are still hospitalized as a result of the incident. Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo says Owens’ actions, including driving into the unsuspecting SXSW crowd, were intentional.
“We do these events very well. But you cannot stop a person who decides, rather than face potential drunk driving charges, to continue at a high rate of speed, go around a uniformed officer forcing him to run out of the way, then at a high rate of speed show total disregard for the sanctity of human life,” the head of police says.
According to records, Owens had been convicted numerous times in recent years.
Despite the tragedy, SXSW organizes decided to continue the festival as planned. “Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels,” SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson revealed in a statement.
SXSW 2014 wrapped Sunday with the music portion of the conference and festival.