New safety precautions as SXSW gets underway
AUSTIN, Texas - It's the official start of this year's South by Southwest Festival and it's also the one year anniversary of a deadly crash where four people were killed and dozens injured.
For this year's SXSW, a major security overhaul is underway.
A number of new safety precautions are in place including water-filled barricades weighing two thousand pounds to block off streets, extra police officers on patrol looking for drunk and aggressive drivers, and a push for people to use public transportation.
This all stems from last year's festival when authorities say Rashad Owens drove drunk and plowed through a crowd of party goers. Four people were killed, two at the scene, and 24 others were injured.
Owens submitted to a breathalyzer and blew a .114. He's charged with two counts of capital murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
In the arrest affidavit, Owens says he ran from police because of an outstanding warrant and didn't want to go to jail for five years. Now, he's looking at life in prison with the possibility of parole, if convicted.
If you're planning on attending SXSW events this year, police say planning ahead is your safest best.
During SXSW, the downtown area will be sliced up into a special 9-1-1 grid to help first responders get to scenes faster.