Astroworld Festival: Latest updates from Travis Scott’s Houston concert
Travis Scott has offered to cover the costs of the funerals for the eight victims of Friday’s deadly crowd surge at the festival.
Meanwhile, a nine-year-old boy has been put into a medically induced coma following injuries sustained at the festival, and a 22-year-old student has been declared brain dead. Horrifying footage has emerged of the crush of people as the concert continued as the deadly incident unfolded.
The FBI has joined the investigation into the events of Friday night, as the mayor of Houston has argued that abruptly ending the concert could have made matters worse.
Scott and the organisers of the Houston festival are facing over 30 lawsuits related to the crowd surge that claimed eight lives and injured 300.
Among those suing Scott and festival organisers is the family of 21-year-old Axel Acosta. An attorney for the family told a press conference on Monday that Acosta had the “life squeezed out of” him and was then “trampled on like a piece of trash”.
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Astroworld concert-goer, aged 22, declared brain dead
Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old student at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, has been declared brain dead after she was hurt during the Astroworld crowd surge, her family told ABC 13 Houston.
Ms Shahani had gone to the concert with her sister Namrata Shahani and her cousin Mohit Bellani but they lost each other during the chaotic scenes on Friday night.
“Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other,” Mr Bellani was quoted as saying. “There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.”
He told the local ABC affiliate that Ms Shahani lost oxygen for several minutes, which doctors say led to the swelling of her brain stem. The 22-year-old remains on a ventilator.
Chequered past of Travis Scott’s infamously rowdy performances
Travis Scott is infamous for encouraging his fans to ignore crowd security measures and engage in “raging”, speaking in the past about how his childhood love of wrestling inspired his approach to gigs. “In performances, I always wanted to make it feel like it was the WWF or some s***,” he told GQ in 2015.
According to Chicago officials, Scott encouraged his fans to vault security barricades during the Lollapalooza music festival in 2015. He was sentenced to one year of court supervision after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct.
Two years later, in 2017, Scott was accused of inciting a riot, after he encouraged members of the crowd to rush the stage during the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rodgers, Arkansas. Several people were left injured including a security guard and a police officer. Scott pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay a fine and restitution to two injured people.
He is also being sued by a 23-year-old fan, who was partly paralysed after allegedly being pushed from a third-floor balcony during his performance in New York City in 2017. The man says that the incident happened after Scott encourage people to jump. The matter is still pending before the court.
Astroworld emergency plan ‘did not include crowd surge measures’
The Astroworld festival had an emergency operational plan that accounted for a number of dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, bomb or terrorist threat, but it did not include any information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.
“In any situation where large groups of people are gathering, there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests,” reported AP, citing the 56-page plan. “The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behaviour in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot.”
Authorities are reviewing whether the concert promoters and organisers adhered to the plan submitted.
Drug use rampant at Astroworld concert, claim attendees
On the heels of reports that drug use could have played a role in the deadly crowd surge at Astroworld on Friday, concertgoers have said they were certainly aware of rampant drug use across the festival.
“There was a lot of drugs,” festival attendee Ashley Chapa was quoted as saying by CBS affiliate KHOU. “At one point, we were leaving the smaller stage where all the smaller artists were playing and were walking to Travis Scott, and we passed by this man with a Snapchat screen, and they wrote the text on there and it said, ‘LSD for $15’. And obviously, little kids, young people, were there and they’d be, like, ‘Oh, I’ve never tried this before, let’s try it.’”
Houston Police also suspects drug use may have been a factor and has involved its narcotics division in the two criminal investigations opened into the tragedy.
Four big unanswered questions about the deadly Travis Scott concert
ICYMI: There are many things we still don’t know about the deadly Astroworld disaster, but the most important questions are taking shape.
Multiple lawsuits and investigations already under way, with Houston officials reviewing the festival’s security plan, checking permits and viewing CCTV footage.
Investigators will need to discover whether the show’s organiser Live Nation is in any way to blame for what happened – as well as what role headliner and founder Travis Scott played.
Io Dodds reports for The Independent.
As officials and lawyers begin to comb through the evidence, serious questions have opened up about what role rap star Travis Scott and festival organiser Live Nation may have played in the catastrophe
Over 30 lawsuits filed over Astroworld tragedy
The lawsuits against Travis Scott, Live Nation and others over the tragedy at Astroworld continue to mount. According to Complex, at least 35 lawsuits have been filed through the Harris County District Clerk.
Among those who have moved court over the tragedy include concert-goers Manuel Souza, Kristian Paredes and the family of nine-year-old Ezra Blount, who is in a medically induced coma.
While Mr Souza in his lawsuit claimed it to be a “predictable and preventable tragedy”, Mr Paredes is suing the organisers seeking $1m in damages for the injuries he sustained. The Blount family have sued Scott and the organiser Live nation over their alleged “grossly negligent conduct” at the event.
Concert at venue cancelled two weeks prior because of crowd control problems, report says
ICYMI: Two weeks before the tragedy at Astroworld, another concert at the venue was cancelled because of chaotic fans, ABC 13 reports.
Rapper Playboi Carti was scheduled to perform at the NRG Arena on 23 October.
Chris May and his 16-year-old son travelled to Houston from Little Rock, Arkansas for the show. He told ABC13 that before they left their hotel his son showed him videos of chaos erupting among fans trying to get inside.
Mr May thought things would have calmed down by the time they arrived. But two hours after the concert was set to start, fans were still outside waiting to get in.
“There was another mad rush to the gate,” May recalled. “We got swept up in it. Literally, picked up off our feet, pushed forward a good 10 or 15 feet. The crowd then surged backward. I’m sitting there with my arms wrapped around my 16-year-old son terrified for our safety and fearing the worst and whispering in his ear, ‘Don’t worry everything is going to be OK. Don’t fall down.’”
The concert was then cancelled.
When they returned to the hotel, he sent an email to NRG saying: “You should be embarrassed by your crowd control plan for the Playboi Carti concert tonight. It was a disgrace!”
“Trying to funnel that many people into a limited entrance is a recipe for disaster. Consider yourself lucky if no one was killed or seriously injured.”
He did not receive a response, and described the tragedy that occurred on Friday night as “sickening”.
Victims’ families send their own experts to assess Astroworld set-up
Attorneys representing families of some of the victims of the Astroworld concert tragedy have sent their own experts to study the set-up at the festival, reported CBS affiliate Khou.
Starting from the entrance, all the way through the medical tents to stages and backstage area, the experts hired by attorneys Ben Crump & Alex and Bob Hilliard took photos, videos and even drone shots around the NRG park.
Mr Crump and his co-counsels have moved court on behalf of a nine-year-old boy who was critically injured at the Astroworld festival and is now in an induced coma.
Houston mayor: Stopping Astroworld show may have made things worse
ICYMI: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner answered questions about Friday’s tragedy on Tuesday morning, specifically about why the show was not stopped immediately when it was known there were casualties.
Travis Scott continued to perform for almost 40 minutes after the Houston Fire Department declared a mass casualty event. Scott says he was unaware of what was going on in the crowd.
Mr Turner echoed the response of HPD Chief Troy Finner, who cited the possibility of potential rioting “when you have a group that’s young” in a crowd of roughly 50,000 people.
Said the mayor to reporters: “Well, I’m not gonna say they didn’t do anything, but we’re still gathering the facts on all of that. And you want to be very careful when you stop things when you’ve got 50,000 people that are there.”
“And those in a certain area, they may know what’s happening, but you got thousands and thousands that are crammed in, and they don’t know what’s happening. So if you just stop something abruptly, then you don’t want to make the situation worse. So it’s a sensitive situation,” he told ABC 13.
He said that the authorities would continue to examine video footage and talk to those who were there to get a clearer picture of what happened.
“Who was monitoring the crowd? What was their responsibility? Where were they positioned? The message board… were any messages given to the overall audience? All of those details are being looked at,” Mr Turner said.
He added that the event was a county facility contract between Live Nation and NRG, but added that it didn’t matter if it occurred in the city or county. If future events happen in Houston, he and his team need to be at the table from the beginning to decide if an event is safe for the city.
Astroworld event plan warned staff not to perform first aid and CPR if they weren’t properly trained
Staff at the doomed Astroworld Festival had been warned not to perform first aid and CPR if they were not properly trained, it has been revealed – as festival-goers have complained about poorly trained and ill-equipped medical personnel trying to handle Friday night’s tragedy.
An event operations plan, by Austin-based promoter ScoreMore Shows and obtained by CNN, details the preparations in place and the chain of command in the event of medical emergencies at Travis Scott’s annual festival in Houston, Texas.
Rachel Sharp has more.
Festival-goers say staff were overwhelmed by the numbers of people in need of medical attention at Travis Scott’s show