A Chicago bar and restaurant has scheduled a benefit to help the family of a former employee who was seriously injured and whose wife was killed in a tragic crash at the South by Southwest music festival last month.
The Heartland Cafe and Red Line Tap benefit for Evan and Jamie West will be held at 7 p.m. May 1 and will feature music from The Twin Peaks and friends and The Red Line Disaster with special guests The Polkaholics.
Proceeds from the event will go to helping former Heartland Cafe and Red Line Tap employee Evan West, who was seriously injured at the festival in Austin, Tex.
A drunk driver slammed into a crowd of people just outside the large Austin, Tex., music festival, injuring more than 20 people. Evan West, 28, was severely injured, and his wife, 27-year-old Jamie West, was one of the three killed.
"It's painful," Brettly Kawaguchi, the couple's former coworker, said. "It's one of the worst things that could happen to him and his wife."
Friends are now raising money for Jamie's funeral and Evan's recovery, including rehabilitation and legal representation. A fund was set up where donations can be made.
"I can't believe it," said Sarah Skinner, a close friend. "Evan loved music, Jamie loved music. They were going out to have fun, then this horrible thing that never should have happened, happened."
Evan and Jamie West were Garrett, Ind., natives, but their relationship was rooted in Rogers Park where the couple lived and worked from 2008 to 2010. Evan was a server and bartender at Heartland and Red Line Tap, where he met some of his dearest friends.
"Really good kid, really good small town guy," Kawaguchi said. "Really nice, caring, polite, mild-mannered
"They were so in love," Skinner said. "They are opposite personalities, but their opposites really complement each other."
The couple moved to Texas a few years back to be closer to family and have a fresh start but friends say they never would have imagined it would also be the place the two would be torn a part from such a tragic accident.
"Him getting hurt was bad enough," Kawaguchi said, "but to now wake up and realize his wife is gone and he has to deal with this by himself."
Family says Evan suffered head trauma, a broken leg, broken ribs and injuries to his organs.
"I hope [the benefit] helps the family and Evan," said Tom Rosenfeld, managing partner of Heartland Cafe and Red Line Tap.