In the early hours of Thursday morning (March 14th) the mood of SXSW was completely altered.
Avoiding a drink-drive checkpoint, a car veered down a packed side street, colliding with pedestrians and the driver of a moped.
Tragically, two people were killed while 23 others were injured. SPIN point out that one of the deceased was 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr, the creative director of the agency Massive Music.
The Austin-American Statesman, meanwhile, reports that the second person to die in the incident was 27-year-old Austin resident Jamie Ranae West, the passenger on the back of a moped driven by her husband, Evan West.
A statement from SXSW reads as follows:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin.
We appreciate and commend the first responders, as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action.
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.
Please watch sxsw.com and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.
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SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson added:
The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night.
Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with APD to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street.
To avoid confusion 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.
All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.
We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors.
Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. 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.
One of the fatalities was a SXSW registrant, a gentleman from the Netherlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.
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