Police identify driver in deadly SXSW crash - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Police identify driver in deadly SXSW crash

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Police have identified the driver in Thursday morning's deadly crash that left two people dead and 23 others injured.

The Austin Police Department says 21-year-old Rashsad Charjuan Owens of Killeen was the driver of the silver Honda Civic that ran through multiple barriers and into a crowd of South by Southwest gatherers on Red River Street.

The situation began at around 12:30 a.m. when a police officer working a drunk-driving checkpoint one block east of Red River Street attempted to pull the driver over. Authorities say Owens pulled into a nearby Shell gas station, appearing as if he intended to come to a stop, but then weaved through a couple of vehicles and drove the wrong direction down 9th Street.

Owens turned right onto Red River and drove through the security barriers, narrowly missing an on-duty police officer and then continued to drive through a group of people standing outside popular Austin nightclub, The Mohawk.

Owens also struck a couple riding a moped, a bicyclist, a taxi and a van before crashing the vehicle and attempting to flee the scene on foot. APD officers pursued him, were able to use a  taser on him and then took him into custody.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo believes Owens made an intentional decision to cause this morning's mayhem. "Let me be clear, this individual showed no regard for the human beings he plowed through in his attempt to get away," said Acevedo.

Owens was booked and is awaiting formal charges. Authorities also obtained a search warrant for his blood. The results have not come back yet.

Owens faces two counts of capital murder, the highest offense a person can be charged with in the state of Texas, meaning he could face the death penalty. He is also facing 23 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The car he was driving had been reported stolen.

A man from The Netherlands, identified as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr and a woman, identified as 27-year-old Jamie Ranae West, on the moped were in cardiac arrest when emergency services responded to them. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Twenty-three additional patients were transported to area hospitals. Currently, two patients are still in critical condition, three patients are in serious condition, three are hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries and 15 were treated and released. Below is the list of the injured; three females and one male have not yet been identified. 

29-year-old Evan West

26-year-old Joseph McCraney

18-year-old Mason Endres

18-year-old Kartisha Davis

19-year-old Greg Cerna

29-year-old April Martinez

20-year-old Ryan Freeman

39-year-old Johannes Hailu

20-year-old Maria Belyvia

19-year-old Carolyn Grace

29-year-old Jeff Chenzer

20-year-old Ashley Easley

20-year-old Jacob Gallegos

19-year-old Hall Erica

24-year-old Jane Henderson

29-year-old William Josma

20-year-old Juan Leura

21-year-old Jaqueline Longhurst

17-year-old Alexis Zamarippa

Police say Owens has been in and out of jail since 2010.

In September of 2010 Owens was arrested in Bell County for a criminal trespass offense he committed one month before.

A year later, in October of 2011, Owens was arrested in Fairbanks, Alaska on counts of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and probation violation. He was later found guilty for the DUI.

The incident report says Owens hit a light pole into the street with his car and drove off.  Owens did not test positive that night for alcohol but an exam showed signs of impairment from marijuana.

In May 2012 he was arrested again in Fairbanks for criminal mischief, that case is still open. He never showed for the court hearing in October and police issued a warrant for his arrest. That same month, Owens was arrested again in Bell County for criminal trespass. He served a total of 18 days in jail.

FOX 7 learned that Owens was an aspiring musician. He was supposed to be performing last night at Club 1808 on East 12th Street, but according to the manager, he never showed up.

Despite the tragedy, SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson said planned activities will go on as scheduled.

"As much as we'd like to go home to absorb the shock of the horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue operating today," said Swenson. "We feel an obligation to the people who are here to be part of this to carry on."




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