Lubbock native 'mortified' by SXSW tragedy - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock native 'mortified' by SXSW tragedy

Don Boles was just moments away from the accident at SXSW Don Boles was just moments away from the accident at SXSW

Austin may be almost six hours away, but the weight of the South by Southwest tragedy hits closer to home for one Lubbock native.

The tour and road manager for Joe Ely and The Flatlanders, Don Boles, says he was just moments away from where the incident happened early Thursday morning.

"The entire neighborhood was filled with the sounds of sirens. You saw police and ambulances coming from pretty much every direction heading back into that spot," Boles said.

A suspected drunken driver killed two and inured 23 when he drove his car down a one-way street as people spilled out of a concert venue just after midnight on Thursday.

"The magnitude of the noise and the amount of emergency vehicles and the type of response kind of led me to think something serious had happened. But I would have never guessed something of that magnitude," Boles said.

Among the dead is a man from the Netherlands, Steven Craenmehr, 35, who was on a bicycle. He worked for Massive Music, which has offices in Amsterdam, London and New York. Also dead is a Texas woman who was riding on the back of a moped. The driver of the moped survived and is hospitalized.

"I was…I guess the word would be mortified," he said. "It was truly a horrible thing to hear about."

Austin police have identified the suspect as Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21.

Police said the suspect was trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint at about 12:30 a.m. CST on Thursday. He sped away from police and drove past barricades set up for the festival, drove the wrong way down a one-way street and plowed into pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles before fleeing on foot.

Police say the officer manning the barricades leapt out of the way of the speeding car. He and the officer from the DUI checkpoint chased the suspect on foot before using a stun gun to subdue him and take him into custody.

"I've spoken with several artists and I think everybody's just shocked. They're in a state of disbelief that something like that happened," Boles said.

The suspect will be charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle. He has been booked by Austin police.

Two victims are in critical condition at University Medical Center, Brackenridge with head injuries. Others who were injured are at area hospitals, including three in serious condition and three others with non-life-threatening injuries. Fifteen were treated and released, including the suspect, who is now in police custody.

Officials said that this was the first incident of deaths at SXSW in the 27-year history of the event.

Boles says he will be at the festival again Thursday night, but with a somber heart, thinking and praying for the victims, their families, and first responders who were affected by this tragedy.

"My heart, my prayers go out to anyone and everyone involved and all of their families. This is just a horrible thing to deal with and I hope they know that everyone here with the festival and Austin I'm sure is right behind them in any support they can give," Boles said.

The Raycom News Network contributed to this report.

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