If you’re not familiar with South by Southwest (SXSW), it is a film and music festival that is the pride and joy of Texas. SXSW is going on as we speak, scheduled from March 7-16, 2014, in Austin, Texas. SXSW is right up the road from me, and I’ve just been waiting until my kids are old enough to handle massive, crazy crowds to take them to many of the family-friendly events.
After reading about an accident that took place late last night at the festival, I’m incredibly saddened and a little frightened about taking my kids to an event like this. Two people have been confirmed dead and 23 others were hospitalized after a drunk driver fleeing police plowed his car into a crowd at the festival. The “police chase” that led to the accident started when the intoxicated driver was caught driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
According to CNN:
“It looked like something out of a movie,” said Russ Barone, who was at the festival. “A few people lying on the street … with their friends around them trying to get them up, trying to get them back to life. Hopefully, they are.”
He said the scene was grisly, with people bleeding in the streets.
“I’ve never seen nothing like it. I felt like I was at a war or something,” Barone said. “I was down here for the music … we were having the best time ever. And then it turned into the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
I have so much to say about this incident. First, I am more than familiar with the party culture in Austin. If you’ve ever been to 6th Street on a Friday night, then you’ve probably seen some drunk idiot flashing their boobs or puking on the sidewalk. It’s chilling to think that someone looking for a good time at SXSW was careless enough to drive intoxicated and kill and injure multiple people.
Second, I am not proud to admit that I have a DUI in my history. This was a foolish mistake I made in my early twenties, and it has made me all kinds of paranoid about drinking and driving today. Because I have been in the situation myself, it literally makes me physically ill to think about the potential of killing someone after a night of partying with friends.
I know SXSW draws a wild crowd, but in daytime hours, it can cater to families. This accident took place at 12:30 AM, and I sincerely hope that families with kids left the festival far before then. I still want to take my kids in a few years, but this horrific accident has reminded me that SXSW is far from family-friendly at night.