When I think of our city, I tend to look at it as a person transitioning from childhood to adulthood. It’s called puberty, folks. Austin is still transitioning from a small college city to a bustling metropolis. And as our city grows, we will experience hardships and trying times. How we react to these situations will define Austin’s character.
On Thursday March 14, 2014, a man was stopped downtown for an alleged DWI. The situation escalated rapidly as he chose to run from authorities. The chase ended at the Mohawk Club on 10th and Red River, as drove through a crowd of people waiting to get into a SXSW event. He was eventually apprehended by APD. The immediate result of the mayhem was two dead and 23 wounded. Since the occurrence, two more victims have passed away. Rashad Charjaun Owens is now facing capital murder and aggravated assault charges, and more may be added since not all of the victims are out of the hospital.
The incident sparked a debate about our city. It’s almost like hearing parents talk about their adolescent child. “The city is too drunk,” some say. “It’s not the people’s fault; it’s a lack of effective mass transit,” others reply. Still others place blame on SXSW, the police, and a plethora of other targets.
Regardless, of the reason(s) why things went down as they did, the fact remains that, as of this writing, four people are dead and others are still in the hospital. In sobering instances like this, Austin’s people show their true character. And in this case, our city shines. Because when you look through the fog of good time and parties, you find a city that cares. You find people banding together in this time of crisis, extending their hands to those needing to be lifted up.
SXSW Cares was set up by SXSW, The Mohawk Club, American Red Cross and the Austin Community Foundation to benefit victims of the now infamous car crash and any future incidents that may occur. Donations are disbursed through Victim Services Division of the Austin Police Department.
On March 24th, SXSW Cares, the Austin Facial Hair Club and The Mohawk Club got together and held a raffle. All drink tips and tickets sales went to SXSW Cares. $5,000 was rustled up and participants walked away with prizes from local businesses like Amy’s Ice Cream, P. Terry’s, Hot Lava Obstacle Course, and Fun Fun Fun Fest. On March 30th, there was a benefit comedy show at The New Movement Theater for Sandy Le, the third person to succumb to her injuries from the crash.
How We Can Help
The next SXSW Cares event is a benefit concert at Red 7 on April 15th. It is an all-ages event featuring Eddie Dinero, Article, Life So Far, Skyacre, Young Costello and Scary Mondelos. Tickets are $5.00. Doors open at 8 PM and all door proceeds go to SXSW Cares.
There are still people in the hospital. There are still family members who need financial help. There are bills that need to be paid. There are arrangements to be made. There are Austinites who want to help ease the trauma of this tragic event. SXSW Cares can make this happen, but not without our help.
If you see an event sponsored by SXSW Cares, know that the proceeds are going to the crash victims and their families. Your donations are going to heal wounds, both physical and psychological.
If you are unable to attend a SXSW Cares event, donations can be made online. If you would like to help in another way, call Austin Community Foundation at 512-220-1415. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
What do you think about SXSW Cares? Are you involved yet?