Third Victim Dead After Tragic Crash at SXSW

By Amanda Chiarello,
Domestic News Writer

A third victim has died Monday, March 17, after injuries sustained during a tragedy happening the week before out­side a nightclub at the South By South­west music festival, where a drunk driver drove through a crowd of people.

The victim, Sandy Le, was hit outside The Mohawk nightclub in Austin, Texas. The 26-year-old was an Austin resident, but was originally from Pass Christian, Mississippi. Le was on life support in crit­ical condition since the accident.

“She was a very carefree and noncha­lant person…she was very selfless,” said her brother-in-law, Stuart Gates of Hat­tiesburg, Miss. “She was full of life, she was quirky, and she was always someone you were looking forward to seeing.”

Le was with a group of friends, some who were also injured, when Rashad Owens, 21, of Killeen, Texas, crashed through a barricade where the street was closed to traffic.

Owens is accused of drunk driving, fleeing from police and deliberately driv­ing into a crowd of people attending the festival. According to USA Today, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said Owens intentionally steered toward pedestrians in hopes of escaping an officer who was try­ing to pull him over.

Jamie West, 27, and Steven Crae­nmehr, 35, were also killed that night. Twenty-two others were injured. Six peo­ple remain hospitalized, including one in critical condition.

According to USA Today, Owens has been charged with capital murder. He will face the death penalty in court. He remained in jail Monday on a $3 million bond.

At the time of his arrest, Owen’s blood-alcohol level was 0.114, almost twice the legal limit in Texas, which is 0.08.

Owens has been in and out of the courtroom before. In October 2011, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influ­ence in Fairbanks, Alaska. He also faced 2012 charges in Alaska of criminal mis­chief, and a warrant was issued for him after he failed to appear in court.

Le graduated from the Mississippi School for Math and Science in 2006 and attended college at both the Univer­sity of Southern Mississippi and Missis­sippi State University. She planned to return to school in Austin.

According to USA Today, Le’s fam­ily has had several tragedies in the past few years, such as losing their home in Hurricane Katrina and their shrimping business during the BP oil spill. In addi­tion, Le’s uncle disappeared from a dive boat in July and was never found. The family just wants to feel peace.

Vigils were held for the people who died and those injured by the accident. One vigil was held outside the nightclub and the other at Trimble Tech, a high school in Fort Worth, where three of the injured victims had ties to.

“I saw people getting CPR, blood everywhere, bodies,” said Erica Hall, a Fort Worth victim. “I saw a lot that was really shocking to me. I’ve seen it on TV, but I’m here…and it’s happening.” The music festival events continued after the tragedy. The festival ended its 28th year early Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Mar. 25 print edition.

Contact Amanda at


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