Dutch cyclist among two killed after car ploughs into crowd at SXSW festival

Dutch cyclist among two killed after car ploughs into crowd at SXSW festival
By Thomas Seymat
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A Dutch cyclist was one of two people killed when a car evading a checkpoint ploughed into a crowd outside a Texas nightclub, police say.

The driver sped past a police barricade and into a one-way street before losing control, killing two and injuring 23, at least two critically.

The carnage unfolded on Thursday at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin.

Austin police chief Art Acevedo told a news conference a Texan woman riding a moped and a Dutch man on a bicycle had been killed in the incident.

The driver, after he had crashed into a van, fled from police and was subdued by an officer using a stun gun. He will face two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle, police said.

Acevedo said: “This is an individual that showed no regard for the human beings that he plowed [sic] into in his attempt to get away.

Acevedo said police had taken blood samples from the man and have video of the incident from a police dashboard camera.

Watch videos of the aftermath of the hit-and-run

The suspect was asked to pull over at a sobriety check point and instead sped away from a police car. He smashed through a police barricade and then ploughed down people, some of them lined up outside a nightclub, over a span of two blocks.

Witnesses said victims were flying in the air after being struck.

Emergency medical teams, on standby for the festival, responded quickly and the most severely injured victims were transported to nearby hospitals, officials said.

“All of our critical patients were off the scene within 15 minutes of the time we received the first call,” James Shamard, chief of staff for Travis County EMS, told the news conference.

Five of the victims were initially in critical condition and two remained in that condition after suffering head injuries, medical officials said.

The suspect had minor injuries and was treated at the same hospital as many of the victims. He was then taken into police custody, hospital officials said.

SXSW, running from March 7 to 16, began as a music event in 1987. It features technology conferences, a film festival and music shows that draw tens of thousands of people to the Texas capital annually.

Roland Swenson, the festival’s managing director, said the event would continue.

“As much as we would just like to go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel that our best use is to continue to operate today,” he said.

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