Astroworld Festival sees death amid fans crushing each other

Nine people were killed last Friday in Texas as Travis Scott headlined a concert at his Astroworld Festival.

By Edward Segal, Staff Writer


Rapper Travis Scott performs at Openair Frauenfeld music festival in Switzerland, 2019 (Photo courtesy of Frank Schwichtenberg/Wikimedia Commons).

Nine people were killed Friday in Houston among the chaos of attendees trying to get to the stage at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival, resulting in lawsuits being filed against the rapper and organizers of the festival.


The death toll rose to nine on Wednesday as Texas college student Bharti Shahani could not recover from her injuries and was on a ventilator for five days, according to the family’s lawyer.


Organized by Scott in 2018, Astroworld is an annual music festival held at NRG Center in Houston, near what was formerly a Six Flags amusement park from which the event got its name. According to the Houston Fire Department, the two-day music festival saw 50,000 people in attendance.


As concertgoers tried making their way to the front, many collapsed due to oxygen deprivation. People squeezed by each other to get to the stage, causing enough congestion for 11 people to go into cardiac arrest.


"The crowd was squishing me so much that I felt like I couldn't breathe," 22-year-old concertgoer Emily Munguia told CNN. "I started screaming for help ... I felt so scared, like I was going to die."


Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops due to low oxygen levels, as anesthesiologist George Williams of Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital told the press.


“When the lungs are squeezed like they are in a crowd situation, oxygen levels drop very quickly,” said Williams.“Because of that, the person loses consciousness and their heart is not able to function like it should.”


Scott has been known to incite riots at his concerts, being arrested at Lollapalooza in 2015 and at the Arkansas Music Pavilion in 2017. On both occasions he told his fans to ignore security, and ended up pleading guilty to reckless conduct the first time and disorderly conduct the second, as stated by the police after each event.


The history of riots at Scott’s concerts coupled with overly eager concertgoers created a disaster more severe than anything people could have foreseen. The incident, however, is not unprecedented.


In 1979, 11 people were killed at a rock concert of performing band “The Who” in Cincinnati. This happened outside the doors of the Riverfront Coliseum where 20,000 audience members waited for the concert to begin. Apart from the 11 deceased victims, eight were badly injured.


"I’ve dealt with many crises since I’ve been mayor,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in a news conference Saturday. “This is the only one where it’s been difficult to sleep at night and in large part is because we’re dealing with kids."


Eight of the nine people who died were under 25 years old.


In addition, a nine-year-old boy is in a medically induced coma, fighting for his life after suffering cardiac arrest which resulted in damage to his lungs and liver, as well as swelling to his brain. According to the boy’s grandfather, his condition is being monitored at the Texas Children’s Hospital.


Valley Athletic Director Dave Mallas was at the Las Vegas Route 91 concert in 2017 when a mass shooting occurred - leaving 61 people dead. He said that he still goes to concerts and believes that people should not let this incident stop them from doing what they love, but they should have a heightened awareness that these things could happen.


“It’s gonna be hard,” said Mallas. “Don’t let anyone tell you how to think or feel. Find someone to speak to, but don’t let it stop your life.”


Scott will not perform at the Day N Vegas festival this weekend. His spot as the final performer will be taken by Post Malone. Scott’s representative said the rapper will cover the funeral costs for the nine victims, as well as mental health services for the survivors.


Charges have yet to be filed with those connected to the festival.



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