Conor Kenny is a legislative aide who lives in East Austin. The 33-year-old Kenny was waiting on line at the Mohawk late Wednesday night. (Originally reported for a piece in The New York Times, but space constraints prevented including his story. Turns out Conor is the kind of stand-up guy you might want to be standing next to when something bad happens. )
This is what he saw. This is what he did. This is what he is doing tonight.
I was a festival attendee and had a SxSW wristband. I was waiting in line for Tyler the Creator. The wristband line was farther in, closer to the sidewalk. The badges and people without wristbands were closer to the street.
There was no warning whatsoever. I did not see a car, I did not process that there was a car, there was just kind of a whoosh and a thud and people started flying.
There were people in the air.
The next I knew, there were people on the ground. There was a lot of groaning and crying.
There was guy who could not have been more than three feet in front of me who got hit. He literally got knocked out of his shoes and landed right at my feet. He was bleeding very badly from the head. I was a lifeguard and a Boy Scout when I was younger and I gave him basic first aid, applying a compress to his head. He started coming to, but I kept him on the ground. Everywhere around me, people in the crowd who had not been hit were attending to the people who were hurt.
A cop came by and asked if we could move him. We got him out of the road and sat him down. He was out of it and kept asking where his phone was. I lied and said we were looking for it.
Finally somebody came by and said that it was car that hit people. That was the first I knew of what had actually happened.
Tonight? I’m going back down to see music at Shotguns. I won’t be doing anything differently because of what happened, and I don’t think there was anything different that could have been done. The street was closed off, the guy drove through a barricade and short of putting up concrete barricades, there is nothing that would change anything.
Everybody, including the EMTs, the police, and the crowd themselves did amazing things in a very difficult situation. It reinforced my belief that SxSW is a good event with good people. Before, during, and after the event, people continued to be helpful, friendly and in good spirit. It reinforced my faith in our community. I don’t see why a freak event should change anything.