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Third person dies in South by Southwest crash at Texas capital

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A third person has died as a result of a motorist plowing his car into crowds of people outside of nightclubs, bars and restaurants last week at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, officials said on Monday.

Sandy Thuy Le, 26, died on Monday surrounded by her family, relatives said.

She was one of the five people listed in critical condition after the incident last Thursday. One of those victims remains in critical condition and another is in serious condition, police said.

Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, from Killeen, Texas, has been charged with murder for the incident that killed two and left nearly two dozen people injured.

Police said Owens fled from a sobriety checkpoint smashed through a police barricade and then plowed down people, some of them lined up outside a nightclub, as he sped through several city blocks.

The two other people killed were Jamie West, 27, from Austin and Steven Craenmehr, 35, of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Le was an organ and tissue donor and some of her organs were harvested, family members said.

Le's brother-in-law described her as someone who was quirky and full of life.

"She lived in this whimsy that almost made you jealous. She was a very carefree and nonchalant person with a definitely giving spirit, and she was very selfless," Stuart Gates of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, told reporters.

Le, a native of Mississippi, attended both the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University. She moved to Austin and planned to go back to school there, her brother-in-law said.

The suspect, Owens, was being held on a $3 million bond. His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

SXSW, which ran from March 7 to 16, began as a music event in 1987. It features technology conferences, a film festival and music shows that draw tens of thousands of people to the Texas capital annually.

Many roads in downtown Austin were closed to traffic each night of the event as thousands took to restaurants, bars, clubs and movie theaters. Police set up numerous checkpoints in the area to look for people suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

(Additional reporting by Therese Apel in Jackson, Mississippi; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)

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