The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival recently concluded in Austin, Texas, and three people will never come home. The man responsible for their deaths, 21-year-old Rashad Owens, is charged with capital murder and aggravated assault after her intentionally ran his car into a crowd of festival-goers. Overall, 25 people were injured, and six remain in the hospital. Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm offer some safety tips to anyone planning to attend a similar event this summer.
The crash occurred outside at about 12:30 a.m. outside Mohawk nightclub on Thursday, March 13th 2014. Owens was in Austin to perform, had a criminal history, was likely inebriated, and was fleeing from police. Festivals like SXSW, Lollapalooza, and Electric Daisy Carnival attracted tens of thousands of people in some of the country’s most populated urban centers. After this tragedy and several overdose deaths last year at the New York City’s Electric Zoo festival, many are wondering if urban festivals have become too big and rowdy to be safe.
Cities like Austin, New Orleans and Chicago have had to learn how to manage massive crowds of inebriated or otherwise reckless people, and have, overall, done a good job doing so. Safety experts always voice concern about the potential of serious accidents like the crash at SXSW, due to the size and nature of the crowds.
Over 30,000 people attend SXSW every year, which closes many roads in Austin. Police also set up several sobriety checkpoints to catch impaired drivers who could cause harm. In this recent tragedy, Owens was stopped at a police sobriety checkpoint and tried to flee, went the wrong way down a one-way, barreled through a police barricades, and ended up plowing through a crowd of pedestrians.
In Chicago every August, about 300,000 people jam in to Grant Park over a three-day weekend to watch live music acts. Many are wondering how to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring this year, either by adding surveillance cameras or putting up new barriers to make sidewalks safer from out-of-control vehicles.
As always, the weather in Chicago can be more ominous than its people. In 2012, the entire festival had to be evacuated when a powerful storm hit downtown. Crowd safety is of utmost importance at every event, regardless of venue. In 2012, a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
As festival season approaches, our tem of injury attorneys outline a few tips to keep safe:
- Party responsibly. Festivals are often extremely hot, and drinking and other substances only further dehydrate you. Drink as much water as possible throughout the day and night.
- Do not bring valuables you won’t need. Bringing your phone is a good idea. Bringing your brand new $500 Nikon camera is not (unless you are being paid to take the photos).
- Maintain awareness to avoid being a victim. Some incidents, like the SXSW tragedy, are unavoidable. But keep your wits about you and be aware of any impending dangers.
- Know where to go or what to do if you become injured, or you need shelter from serious weather. Usually there are medic tents and shelter areas set up throughout the festival. Know where they are.
Our team of auto accident attorneys reminds the public that anyone injured by a negligent or criminal driver is able to receive compensation for your injuries, including lost wages and medical bills. If you have any questions about a crash that caused serious injury to you or a loved one, contact our firm today. Our case reviews are free and available to injured motorists nationwide.