Public safety officials to discuss SXSW crash Monday

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After two crashes involving suspected drunken drivers — one Saturday night and one last month — public safety officials will discuss one of them Monday: the crash during South by Southwest.

In March, four people died when suspected drunk driver Rashad Owens plowed through a crowd on Red River Street during the festival.

Saturday night around 9:30, police say a drunk driver drove onto a sidewalk near San Jacinto and Cesar Chavez, injuring three people walking.

“I think it’s unfortunate that stuff like this keeps happening,” said Austinite Matthew Keel.

Keel said he’d like to see more attention given to pedestrian safety in Austin.

“I don’t know what you can do. It’s definitely scary,” Keel said.

Austin Public Safety Commissioner Michael Levy sat down with KXAN Sunday. He believes there is an answer: more officers patrolling.

“It’s always been the best deterrent to any crime… Whether it’s traffic or residential burglary or what have you, is police visibility,” Levy said.

The commission meets Monday night with Police, Fire and EMS leaders–and a hard look at the SXSW crash is on their agenda.

“This could have happened on any night in Austin, Texas,” Levy said.

As the public safety conversation continues, Levy thinks Austin’s changing city government make-up at the end of the year could get the ball rolling for a larger police force.

“What’s going to get us more officers, is 10-1. We get more council members from the neighborhoods, we’re going to get more officers,” Levy said.

The three people injured Saturday did not have life-threatening injuries. One, though, did suffer serious injuries. Police say the driver of the truck from that hit-and-run crash faces multiple charges, including driving while intoxicated and failure to stop and render aid.

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