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SXSW tragedy: 2 dead, 2 critical after car plunges into crowd

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HOUSTON — Doctors who treated those injured in an overnight crash at the SXSW festival, including the driver, said at least two remained in critical condition.

“These are the worst injuries we see and not everyone survives,” said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, who was among those treating the victims.

Two people were killed and 25 injured when a speeding car struck a crowd outside a busy nightclub in Austin, Texas, early Thursday. The number of victims was later revised downward.

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The driver, whose name has not been released, had been stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving. But he drove away, burst through a barricade and sped the wrong way down a one-way street and into the crowd outside the Mohawk nightclub, police said.

He struck two people on a motorized scooter who were killed instantly, then hit pedestrians, police said.

Officers stopped the suspect with a stun gun and took him into custody at the scene. A spokeswoman said the driver's identity would be revealed at a briefing later Thursday morning. The local medical examiner’s office did not return calls Thursday.

The injured were taken to several hospitals, including St. David's Medical Center, St. David's South Austin Medical Center and University Medical Center Brackenridge.

“They were able to disperse that over the community so no one hospital was overwhelmed,” said Ziebell, medical director of Brackenridge’s emergency department.

Of those injured, 17 were taken to the St. David's hospitals: 13 of them were treated and released, two were in fair condition, one was in serious condition, and one had been transferred to Brackenridge spokeswoman said.

Brackenridge is a few blocks from the crash site and received some of the most seriously injured, Ziebell said. Of eight patients, two remained in critical condition, three in serious condition, one in good condition and two have been treated and released — including the driver, Ziebell said.

Ziebell said the driver was treated for “minor injuries” and released to police.

“He remained in police custody the entire time — they were at his bedside,” Ziebell said.

The two critically injured both suffered head injuries, he said. One went directly into surgery, while the other was still in a special procedures lab, where doctors can stage interventions such as stanching inoperable internal bleeding.

Other patients, most of whom were in their twenties, suffered broken bones, including spinal fractures, he said.

Relatives have been notified and were gathering at the hospital, he said.

“An event like SXSW brings people from all over the world. Some are close by, but some are traveling great distances to rejoin their loved  ones,” Ziebell said.

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