Travis Scott Astroworld Festival – 8 dead and dozens injured in “crowd wave”
HOUSTON – Crowds at a Houston music festival suddenly rushed to the stage during a performance by rapper Travis Scott, hugging fans so tight they couldn’t breathe or move their arms, said on Saturday witnesses, hours after the death of at least eight people in the chaos.
The pandemonium took place on Friday night at Astroworld, a full two-day event at NRG Park. About 50,000 people were present.
Niaara Goods, 28, said crowds poured in as a timer clicked until the performance began.
“As soon as he jumped on stage, it was like an energy took over and everything just went haywire. All of a sudden your ribs are crushed. You have someone’s arm around your neck. You try to breathe, but you can’t, ”Goods said.
Goods said she was so desperate to get out that she bit a man on the shoulder to get him to move.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the movement of the crowd towards the scene caused panic and injuries. Then, “people started to fall, to pass out, and that created further panic.” Dozens of people were injured.
Experts who have studied crowd influx deaths say they are often the result of density – too many people crammed into a small space. Crowds often run away from a perceived threat or move towards something they want, like an artist, before hitting a barrier.
G. Keith Still, visiting professor of crowd science at Suffolk University in the UK, testified as an expert witness in court cases involving crowds. He said he usually does not look at eyewitness reports when beginning to analyze an incident because emotions can cloud the picture and witnesses can only see what is around them immediately.
The deaths recalled a 1979 concert by The Who where 11 people died as thousands of fans attempted to enter Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. Other past crowd disasters include the deaths of 97 people at an overcrowded Hillsborough stadium in 1989 in Sheffield, England, and numerous disasters related to the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia.
People in the Houston crowd reported a lot of scrambling during the performances leading up to Scott’s set.
Then, when Scott took the stage, the crowd seemed to rush forward, trying to get closer to the stage, said Nick Johnson, a high school student from the Houston suburb of Friendswood who was at the concert with friends.
“Everyone was fainting around you and everyone was trying to help each other. But you just couldn’t move. You couldn’t do anything. You can’t even raise your arms, ”Johnson said. “It just got worse and worse.”
Johnson said fans started crashing and people started screaming. He said it was like 100 degrees in the crowd.
Scott seemed to be aware that something was going on in the crowd, but he may not have understood the gravity of the situation, Johnson said.
On a video posted to social media, Scott could be seen stopping the gig at one point and asking for help from someone in the audience: “Security, someone is helping real quick.”
In a tweet posted on SaturdayScott said he was “absolutely devastated by what happened last night.” He is committed to working “with the Houston community to heal and support families in need.”
Houston Police Deputy Executive Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the crowd, said the flare “came suddenly.”
“Suddenly we had several people on the ground going through some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR and moving people around then. “
Satterwhite said the promoters quickly agreed to end the event “in the interest of public safety.”
Amy Harris, a freelance photographer for the Associated Press, described an “aggressive” crowd atmosphere throughout the day due to the way the fans behaved – pushing and rushing at the barricades on the stage and prohibiting VIP and admission areas.
“It was definitely the most chaotic festival environment I’ve been in,” Harris said. “I felt uncomfortable all day.”
She got stuck behind a barricade while photographing artist Don Toliver because around 300 fans rushed into the area. They ended up behind the security barricade with her.
She encountered a similar scene at a different stage for the main act. She left the media pit after three songs because of the mess, causing people to walk through the security barricade to receive medical treatment.
At one point, Gerardo Abad-Garcia was squeezed into the crowd so tightly that he couldn’t remove his arms from his chest. During Toliver’s performance, which preceded Scott’s appearance, he began to worry about his safety.
“I just couldn’t breathe. I was compressed, ”he said. A security guard helped him and others to climb a fence and get out.
He described the crowd during Scott’s set as a wave that “went back and forth”.
Some people lost their shoes and the ground was littered with clothes and garbage. He said some people tried to help those who passed out on the ground, while other onlookers seemed to ignore them and continued to watch the show.
After Scott’s concert, Abad-Garcia saw medics performing CPR on a person who appeared unconscious as the person was taken away on a golf cart.
Authorities did not disclose the cause of death and the dead were not immediately identified.
Scott, one of music’s biggest young stars, founded the Astroworld Festival in 2018. The 29-year-old Houston native has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter with Kylie Jenner, who announced in September that she was pregnant with their second child.
Drake joined Scott on stage at the concert, which was broadcast live by Apple Music.