In a sad case out of a Texas, police are now revealing that the person who drove a car through a crowd of people gathered at the South By Southwest festival was drunk at the time of the accident and behaving erratically. Authorities say they have arrested a man and charged him in connection with the deadly accident and are continuing to work to piece together what happened the evening of the crash.
Police in Austin arrested Rashad Charjuan Owens immediately after the accident. Later tests discovered that he was impaired at the time, with a Breathalyzer reading finding Owens had a BAC of 0.114 percent, well above Texas’ 0.08 percent legal limit. Owens is now behind bars on $3 million bail and apparently still in the market for an attorney.
According to accident investigators, Owens intentionally steered his car into a large gathering of pedestrians in an attempt to evade an officer who was trying to pull him over. Rather than apply his brakes as he neared the crowd, witnesses say Owens accelerated, ultimately killing two people and injuring as many as 23 others.
Because of his actions, Owens is now charged with capital murder and faces dozens of other charges including aggravated assault with a vehicle. The crimes could result in years behind bars, a steep price to pay for trying to run from the cops.
The accident serves as a tragic reminder of how important it is to stay calm if you are pulled over by a police officer. In this case, the deadly evening began when an officer who was out looking for drunk drivers noticed that Owens’ 2012 Honda did not have its headlights turned on. The officer then followed Owens and nearly crashed after Owens made an abrupt turn from the middle lane of traffic.
Owens has told authorities that he got scared when he saw police lights behind him that night and decided his best bet was to run from the officer. Owens admitted to having several outstanding warrants and was afraid of going to jail for being intoxicated. Owens was previously arrested back in 2011, at the age of 19, for drunk driving in Alaska. Rather than calmly pulling over and letting the situation play itself out, Owens chose to drive through a police barricade, hitting and killing two festivalgoers before colliding with a parked taxi. Owens then got out and tried to run on foot before an officer with a Taser subdued him.
Though it is understandable that a person would be afraid to be pulled over after having a few drinks, the absolute worst thing you can do is panic. Attempting to run from an officer will only compound your legal trouble by magnitudes. Instead, behave calmly and follow instructions. When given the chance, contact an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney who can help guide you through the process in a responsible way.
Source: “Drunken-Driving Suspect in Fatal SXSW Crash Charged,” by Will Weissert, published at ABCNews.com.