In response to a car accident that killed two at the scene and injured nearly two dozen more, officials with Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s nightclubs and SXSW created the “SXSW Cares Fund” to raise money for victims of the car crash. The accident early Thursday was caused by a drunk driver who fled police and plowed through a crowd of SXSW festival attendees near the Mohawk.
In a little over 24 hours, the fund received more than $75,000 in donations. The owner of Mohawk and his staff worked with local fundraising group Austin Community Foundation to get the charitable fund up and running before reopening their doors at 7 p.m. Thursday. The fund has received several big donations, Moody said. A check for $20,000 came from a donor wishing to remain anonymous. Vans Shoes, the Mohawk’s SXSW music sponsor, also raised $20,000 by donating their sales proceeds. Stratus Properties Inc. Chairman and CEO Beau Armstrong gave $10,000 on Friday.
The drunk driver, Rashad Owens, has been formally charged with one count of capital murder. Authorities said the 21-year-old fled after an officer tried pulling him over at 12:30 a.m. in downtown Austin on suspicion of drunk driving. The four-door Honda Owen’s was driving only stopped after hitting a bicyclist, moped, taxi and parked van. Owens also hit and injured 22 other people who were taken to area hospitals. Jamie West, who was on the moped, and Steven Craenmehr, on the bicycle, died at the scene. Sandy Thuy Le, 26, died Monday morning from injuries sustained after she was hit outside the Mohawk on Thursday.
“People are jumping up to help from all over the community,” Mohawk owner James Moody said. He added that donations are pouring in from local businesses and individuals, but also from people around the country after Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell mentioned the fund on the Jimmy Kimmel show Thursday night.
“It’s all so overwhelming,” Moody said. “People are really responding and, in part, I think that’s because the nature of it. It was all so senseless, gruesome and unbelievable. I think everyone is in shock and just wants to help.”