SXSW Confirms Hit-and-Run Fatality as Festival Kicks Off in Austin

SXSW fatality
  • Save

SXSW fatality
  • Save
Photo Credit: MJ Tangonan

SXSW confirms the hit-and-run incident in downtown Austin resulted in a fatality, with another critically injured, as the festival kicks off this week.

Police are still looking for the driver of a dark grey Mazda that struck two pedestrians early Tuesday morning in downtown Austin and fled the scene, killing one person and critically injuring another. Austin police confirmed first responders received 911 calls around 1:10 AM on March 12. Emergency services declared one person deceased at the scene, and took the other to a nearby medical center with “critical, life-threatening injuries.”

After the crash, which took place in downtown Austin’s Red River entertainment district, the driver is reported to have continued traveling east on East Seventh Street. Police have yet to identify the two victims, or whether they were affiliated with the SXSW festival taking place this week in the district.

Cpl. Jose Mendez said the incident took place just outside the SXSW barricades, therefore increasing the chances that the victims were there due to the festival. Still, he stressed that the hit-and-run was notably not similar to the deadly incident in 2014 in which a driver ignored police barricades and drove into a crowd at SXSW, killing four people and injuring another 20.

Organizers for SXSW took to Elon Musk’s X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to say they were “deeply saddened to hear of the passing of an individual in downtown Austin following an auto-pedestrian accident.” SXSW has not returned media requests for comment regarding the affiliation of the pedestrians, or any safety measures in place.

Mendez said the SXSW barricades feature a patrol officer at every intersection, as well as a 700-pound “device” made to withstand the impact and pressure of “a dump truck.”

Regardless of any SXSW affiliation, the incident is being investigated as Austin’s 13th fatal traffic incident of 2024; this time last year, the city of Austin had reported 20 fatal crashes resulting in 20 deaths.