Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival may never go down again after this weekend’s tragic incident.
TMZ reports that a stampede at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival caused hundreds of injuries, 23 hospitalizations, 11 cardiac arrests, and eight confirmed deaths injured while the rapper was on stage in his hometown, Houston. One of the trampling victims was a 10-year-old boy. The festival’s first night drew a sold-out crowd of nearly 50,000 people at NRG Park. The crowd was out of control literally as soon as the doors opened, storming event security and police at the gates of the VIP entrance.
The increasing tension in the crowd started to reach a tipping point around 9:15 p.m. when the rowdy crowd began to rush towards the front, compressing more and more people closest to the stage. Several attendees fainted and collapsed. “A crowd surge of hundreds of people rushing to the front of the stage “caused some panic, and it started causing some other injuries,” according to Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena.
“Once we started having the mass casualty incident, they were starting CPR on several people, and it happened all at once,” Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite told ABC13. Satterwhite was among the 367 HPD officers on duty in addition to 241 security officers, but the emergency response still struggled to navigate the swarm of people to reach victims who were injured or passed out.
As the chaos swept through the crowd, more people were trampled and crushed against chest-high metal gates that formed a barrier around the stage. There are conflicting reports about how quickly and how often the Astroworld paused the performances throughout the night to check on the crowd. Chants to stop the show were competing with the blasting sound system. Some people even jumped on stage to alert the camera operators.
Several witnesses claim festival staff was unable or unwilling to shut it down as the emergencies multiplied.
Social media posts from survivors of the night described the claustrophobic conditions as tens of thousands of people tried to force their way to get as close to Travis’ performance as possible after hours of waiting.
“Within the first 30 seconds of the first song, people began to drown- in other people. There were so many people,” according to an Instagram post. “The rush of people became tighter and tighter. Breathing became something only a few people were capable of. The rest were crushed or unable to breathe in the the thick, hot air.
The shoving got harder and harder. If someone’s arms had been up, it was nolonger a possibility to put it down. So, people began to choke one another as the mass swayed. It became more and more violent. We began to scream for help.”
The Instagram user went on to describe how it snowballed from pushing to crushing to trampling in a matter of moments.
“One person fell or collapsed. It doesn’t matter how it started. Once one fell, a hole opened in the ground. It was like watching a Jenga tower topple. Person after person were sucked down. You could not guess from which direction the shove of hundreds of thousands of people would come next.”
Again, attempts to alert the staff were reportedly ignored and even met with threats of further violence.
“The other man grabbed my arm, and told me he would push me off the 15ft platform with no sides if I didn’t get down. I told him to get help. I told him people were dying. I showed him where. He wouldn’t look in the direction either.”
Another Instagram user who identified themselves as an ICU nurse and repeat Astroworld Fest attendee describes an unprepared and understaffed team of medics and security. Despite over 50,000 attendees to past Astroworld Festivals and a sold-out show for opening night, they barely had any Automated External Diffibulators, or AEDs, which can jumpstart someone’s heart when they lose their pulse in a medical emergency.
“I immediately see that there is not enough medics for this so I relieve one medic of CPR. I ask where the ambu bag is, where the AED is, where the stretcher and ambulance is, where tf any sh*t is and they said essentially there is none. There’s one ambu bag, one stretcher, and one AED for 3 – now 4 – people who are pulseless and blue.”
The heroic nurse was soon surrounded by bodies as the crowd carried more unresponsive people towards her. Teenagers did their best to help even though they couldn’t properly perform CPR, but the show continued. “People were begging the crew operating stage lights and stuff around us to stop the concert and they wouldn’t. I am so disappointed and sad.”
Although many fans don’t want to blame Travis for how the festival turned into a mass casualty event, he may have some responsibility as one of the event organizers and has a past of encouraging violence and chaos at his shows. Back in 2015, he was arrested for inciting a riot at Lollapalooza and charged with disorderly conduct. It happened again in 2017 when he plead guilty to inciting a riot in Rogers, Arkansas. The “Sicko Mode” singer may have never intended for anyone to get hurt in the excitement, but welcoming the chaos and encouraging fights contributes to this pattern of violence.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the aftermath of the traumatic event is far from over. This weekend’s remaining shows are canceled. Astroworld Fest posted a statement that they are “focused on supporting local officials” as they continue to investigate.
Our hearts go out to the survivors of that horrific night and the families of the victims.
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