Two teenagers and at least five people in their 20s were among eight victims who died after a crowd surge Friday night at rapper Travis Scott’s sold-out Astroworld music festival in Houston, officials said.
The identities of the eight people have not yet been released, but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Saturday that one of the victims was 14, one was 16, two were 21, two were 23. , one was 27 years old and a person’s age had not been determined. . Only six of the families were notified.
Of the 25 people who were taken to hospital, 13 remained hospitalized on Saturday and five of the injured are under 18, Turner said. A 10-year-old child among the injured is in critical condition.
More than 300 people were also treated throughout the event on Friday at an on-site field hospital, officials said.
The chaotic scene unfolded around 9:15 p.m. local time (10:15 p.m. ET) when “the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage,” Fire Chief Samuel Peña told a conference release early Saturday.
“It caused some panic and started causing injuries. People started to fall, pass out, and it created further panic,” he said, adding that no cause of death was was not yet known for the eight victims but would be determined. .
About 50,000 people were at the festival at NRG Park, hosted by Scott.
Officials said on Saturday that 528 officers from the Houston Police Department provided security at the event and that an additional 755 private security officers were provided by entertainment company Live Nation.
Scott said he was “absolutely devastated” by what had happened.
“My prayers go out to the families and to all who are touched by what happened at the Astroworld Festival,” he said in a statement. Tweeter Saturday. “Houston PD has my full support as they continue to investigate the tragic loss of life.”
“I am committed to working with the Houston community to care for and support families in need,” he added.
The festival, which is in its third year, kicked off on Friday and was scheduled to last two days, but officials said Saturday’s lineup had been canceled.
A spokesperson for NRG Park said they were “deeply saddened by the loss of life and heartbreaking pain suffered by all those affected by this tragedy.”
“We are fully cooperating and working closely with the police and local authorities as they investigate how this tragedy happened at the Astroworld festival,” the spokesperson said.
A 16-year-old festival goer, who did not want to be identified, said the crowd began to move back and forth during a countdown to around 8:30 p.m.
“I couldn’t even stand or breathe or whatever, and I’m 6 feet tall and had to look up to the sky just to breathe before the show even started,” he said. “Since the countdown was going to zero, it didn’t play a full song before people started to crumble and fall back.”
The teenager, who was at the show with his brothers, said around 30 people were “crammed” on top of each other and screaming for help. “
“The people downstairs were definitely suffocating,” he said.
The teenager said he was in the pile for about 15 minutes.
“I have bruises on me, my thumb is still numb,” he said. “I thought I was going to die. It was literally like the survival of the fittest. There was no escape. I’ve never seen adult men fight for their lives like this.”
He was able to slip out of the heap and get to safety. He said he saw two or three bodies on the ground and heard others screaming, “Help. I do not want to die.'”
Alleighya Odom, 21, was also at the concert and said that the compact crowd “was like this force on my back, this force continues”.
“It was scary, really, really,” Odom said.
“I started to look around, and there are people on the floor. There are people looking at me, scared, goofy eyes, like ‘Please help me'”, a she continued. “There are people behind me who cry because they are stepped on.”
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Odom, who has been to Astroworld since 2018, said she moved to a less traveled area because she had a broken ankle and feared further injuring her.
She added that she didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until she saw frantic messages from her mother asking if she was safe.
“It’s just crazy,” she said.
Scott had stopped the show several times to ask fans for help, she added.
Images posted to social media also showed the rapper pausing his performance, and The Houston Chronicle reported that the performer interrupted his act several times throughout the show after spotting distressed fans near the stage. .
The rapper’s girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, who is pregnant with their second child, was at the concert with her sister, Kendall Jenner. They both shared videos from their Instagram story of Scott performing in front of the packed crowd before the crowd skyrocketed. Neither has publicly commented on the chaotic events.
Houston Police Department Deputy Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the concert, told a press conference that the situation had developed rapidly.
“It seems like it happened in a matter of minutes – all of a sudden we had several people on the ground going through some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” he said. declared. “We immediately started doing CPR.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said on Saturday that “one of the stories” circulating is that an individual at the festival was injecting people with drugs.
“We have a report from a security guard… that he was reaching out to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a sting on his neck,” Finner said.
The security guard lost consciousness and received Narcan and was revived, according to Finner. Medical staff noticed a needle prick on the security guard’s neck, he said.
Peña, the Houston fire chief, said there were “several instances” where Narcan needed to be administered at the scene, but did not provide further details.
Before the concert began, several people were injured as festival-goers rushed to the front entrance, Houston-based NBC affiliate KPRC reported. Odom said she thought it was “the first sign” of chaos to come to the show.
“As soon as people started running, I was like, ‘Oh, no … this is going to be crazy,'” she said. “And the way people were running, it was really violent. They were ripping off people’s bracelets in line.”
Finner said the deaths and injuries were unrelated to this rushed entry, as the concert crash happened much later.
The organizers of the Astroworld festival said in a Facebook post that their hearts are with “those we have lost and their loved ones.”
They said they were cooperating with the police and encouraged anyone with information about what happened in the crowd to speak with the authorities.
Governor Greg Abbott said what happened at the festival was “tragic” and thanked first responders and the Good Samaritans for their help.
“The State of Texas is ready to assist with the response, and I have asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation,” he wrote. in a press release. declaration.
Turner, the mayor of Houston, said he had called for a “detailed briefing with all stakeholders,” including law enforcement, Live Nation and NRG Park, to find out how the festival “got out of hand. “.
“What happened at the Astroworld Festival was a tragedy,” he wrote. “It was a major event that happened in the town and on Harris County property. Law enforcement will speak with concert promoters and witnesses today and review available videos. from the event and inside the festival venue. “
Scott, 29, is from Houston. He launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 in his hometown as an annual event. The festival did not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
His 2018 hit “Sicko Mode” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 that year. He was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, most notably for this song and the album “Astroworld”.