The organizers of South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, are being sued by the families of the victims of a fatal crash at this year’s festival.
The lawsuits accuse them of serious safety lapses, AP reported.
Rashad Charjuan Owens has been in jail on murder charges since March after four people died when his car broke through a barrier at the music, film and interactive festival.
The crash, which happened outside the Mohawk venue, also injured 23 people.
Among several wrongful deaths lawsuits was one from the family of Steven Craenmehr, a Dutch music executive, who was knocked off his bike.
His widow and mother claim that SXSW organizers didn’t put enough traffic safeguards on the roads for pedestrians during the event, which sees thousands of bands performing at venues across Austin.
“A festival organizer or traffic design consultant of ordinary intelligence would have anticipated the danger,” the lawsuit says.
Lawyers for SXSW released a statement which read: “What happened on Red River was a terrible tragedy, caused by Rashad Owen’s utter disregard of human life.
“Our hearts continue to ache for those injured and the families of those who lost their lives.
“We look forward to his prosecution for his awful crimes.”
Authorities say that Rashad Charjuan Owens drove his grey Honda Civic through a barricade after an officer on a drink-drive patrol tried stopping the car.
According to police, his blood alcohol level was .114, above Texas’ legal driving limit of .08.
In September, a SXSW safety report found that alcohol consumption and overcrowded venues during the event had left Austin facing a “critical point where public safety could be compromised” if changes are not made.
Organizers called the report incomplete and said it failed to address root issues.
SXSW is known as one of the world’s best platforms for rising music talent.
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A fourth death has been reported after a car crashed into crowds at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.
Austin police named De’Andre Tatum, 18, as the latest victim of the crash, which happened on March 13.
Suspected driver Rashad Charjun Owens, 21, currently faces two capital murder charges after a man and a woman were killed in the collision in Austin.
On March 17, Sandy Thuy Le, 26, was named as the third victim of the crash.
Following the incident, Jamie Ranae West, 27, was the first named victim.
Austin police named De’Andre Tatum as the latest victim of SXSW car crash
Jamie Ranae West was on a moped with her husband Evan West, 29, when they were hit.
Evan West is listed as one of the people still being treated in hospital. It had been previously reported that both of the fatalities had been on the moped.
The man who died in the crash was on a bicycle, police said, although they did not release his name.
Massive Music, a company with offices in Amsterdam, New York and London, said employee Steven Craenmehr, 35, died suddenly in Austin.
Rashad Charjun Owens is also charged with 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said an officer on a drink-driving patrol had initially tried to stop Rashad Charjun Owens, who then tried to escape.
Blood samples from the accused are currently being tested.
Local students have started fundraising initiatives to help the victims, while medical teams have also been appealing for people in the area to donate blood.
Images of ambulances and fire engines and people being treating at the scene were shared on social media.
Police confirmed the news on Twitter and also appealed for people who had been in the area at the time to come forward.
“If you witnessed the incident that took place at 9th and Red River please make sure you talk with an officer on the scene. #SXSW,” they wrote.
The collision happened outside of the Mohawk venue. According to its website, Tyler the Creator was due to perform at the venue.
SXSW festival, which ran from March 11 to March 16, is known as one of the world’s best platforms for rising talent.
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Suspected drunken driver Rashad Charjuan Owens was charged Friday with capital murder in the deaths of two people he allegedly killed as he sped erratically through streets filled with attendees of the South by Southwest (SXSW) digital conference in Austin, Texas.
Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, was charged in the deaths of Jamie West, 27, who was on a motorcycle, and Dutch tourist Steven Craenmehr, 35, who was slammed into by a cab that Owens allegedly struck on Thursday.
Twenty-three people were injured, some seriously.
According to Austin police, the incident began when an officer attempted to stop Rashad Charjuan Owens for a traffic violation. Rashad Charjuan Owens allegedly fled the wrong way down a one-way road at high speed and turned onto Red River Street, which was closed for the city’s iconic event.
Rashad Charjuan Owens was charged with capital murder in the deaths of two people at the SXSW conference in Austin (photo Austin Police)
Witnesses said they heard Rashad Charjuan Owens’ Honda rev up and the car accelerated, running over pedestrians. Some people were knocked in the air.
“Victims were reported to have been flying everywhere as they were being struck by the Honda,” police said in the charging documents.
The Honda ground to a halt in a parking lot after running over a few curbs and crashing into a van. Owens took off on foot and a police officer Tasered him twice to get him to stop.
The blood-alcohol test revealed that Rashad Charjuan Owens was over the legal limit, police said. He told police that he fled initially because he had outstanding warrants in a custody battle over his daughter, according to the charging documents.
Video evidence of the incident showed the driver “intentionally or knowingly hitting people and running through anything in the path,” and driving so fast that people “have no chance” to get out of the way, police said.
Rashad Charjuan Owens was ordered held on $3 million bond.
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