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Published:March 13th, 2014 11:47 EST
South By Southwest (SXSW) Hit with Nightmare of Double DWI Vehicular Homicide!

South By Southwest (SXSW) Hit with Nightmare of Double DWI Vehicular Homicide!

By John G. Kays

When I first heard the news at 2:30 AM (on Facebook), regarding the horrible DWI double vehicular homicide incident, that occurred on Red River (Austin), plowing his car right in the middle of crowds gathered for the first night of South By Southwest (SXSW), I ducked for cover, knowing full and well it would adversely affect the famous, annual festival, which we all love so dearly. 

I thought to myself, this will go away quickly, so I better not touch it, as far as it goes, if I were to cover the story. Well, I did a 360 on that feeble notion, once I noticed the Google News stream; the tragic incident wasn`t going to disappear, it`s covered by the NY Times, WSJ, LA Times, Associated Press, and the Daily Mail. In short, it`s getting coverage from everyone; more than 600 articles are already posted.

Today is just the second day for the music, but I wonder whether the festival will be able to recover from this nasty situation, which isn`t the result of anything bad the SXSW people may have done. That is, I wonder whether the festival can return to a normal celebration of music, art, and film in a positive fashion, putting what just happened behind them.

As I see it, the problem is the clubs are pushing alcohol sales, which is a big driver behind the festival, with maybe music taking the second chair behind booze. You know that`s true, that economic reality, but no one will willingly admit it`s so. One of the first things we`ll want to know (of course), is to find out whether the man arrested had come to see the festival, or just so happened to be out drinking (and driving). Was it just an unfortunate coincidence?

Initially, I averted my eyes when confronting the story; but when that failed, when my curiosity began to overwhelm me, I read through many of the articles written, checking for how major newspapers would cover it, or whether they would cast any aspersions on SXSW, or on Austin in general. 

All of sudden, we`re in the national spotlight, and it could have a devastating effect on us, and could cloud our image as the Live Music Capital of the World, and as a promoter for new ideas (whether it`s in technology or the arts). Well, maybe I`m getting a bit paranoid, but man, this DWI, double vehicular homicide is being read about all over the world; coupled with that black mark, the bands are getting muffled out. No one will hear about them, no one will care either!

Anyway, we`ll have to face up to this tragedy; first of all, we`ll need to get the clearest, most accurate account (as humanly possible) of just how and why this went down, precisely as it did. Out of a half-dozen articles I read over carefully, the best, I thought so far, was an LA Times piece, 2 killed as car plows into crowd at music fest SXSW.

The reason I believe this, is the reporters (August Brown and Andrea Chang) found an excellent eyewitness, Jayda Luna (21 and goes to Texas State), who saw it all and felt it in real time. Also a freelance journalist, Colin Kerrigan, is mentioned; Colin is another great primary source and took a bunch of photographs just after the mayhem, as a silver Toyota sedan (WJLA) plowed through a barrage of people, who were simply minding their own business.

Austin Police Chief, Art Acevedo, in a news conference he gave last night, did a good job of explaining to us how a simple stop of a car (by the DWI Unit), based on strong suspicions the driver was intoxicated, rapidly escalated into the pegged offender attempting a desperate getaway; zigzagging his way through a busy Shell Station, then going the wrong way on 9th (from I-35 access), making a sharp right on Red River, suddenly breaking some barriers set up for the festival.

All the while, increasing his speed, probably since an Austin patrol car was right on his tail (Chief Acevedo mentioned this). Okay, so what I want to know, is just how fast was this crazy man going down Red River before he hit his first person? And was he only on alcohol, or was he on some other drugs as well? I need to put this aside, it`s just too painful, but I know it will not easily go bye bye. I`ll have to get a correct, accurate low-down first (I`m completely dependent on reliable news reporters), before I can begin to put this tragedy behind me.