HOUSTON – Investigators worked Sunday to find out how eight people died in a crush of fans at a Houston music festival as families mourned the dead and concert goers told concert goers the horror and confusion of being trapped in the crowd.
Authorities planned to use video, witness interviews and a concert schedule review to find out what went wrong during a performance by rapper Travis Scott on Friday night. The tragedy unfolded when the crowd stormed onto the stage and squeezed people so tight they couldn’t breathe.
Billy Nasser, 24, who had traveled from Indianapolis to attend the concert, said that after about 15 minutes on Scott’s set, things got “really crazy” and people started crushing each other. He said he “picked up people and tried to pull them out”.
Nasser said he found a concert goer on the ground.
âI picked him up. The people stepped on him. People were like pounding and I lifted his head and looked into his eyes and his eyes were just white, rolled back on the back of his head, âhe said.
Monument: Over the weekend, a makeshift memorial of flowers, votive candles, condolence notes and T-shirts including a Scott shirt took shape outside in NRG Park.
Michael Suarez, 26, came to the growing memorial after attending the concert.
âIt’s very devastating. Nobody wants to see or hear people die at a festival, âsaid Suarez. “We were here to have a good time – a great time – and it’s devastating to hear that someone has lost their life.”
According to friends and family members, one of the dead was a 14-year-old high school student; a 16 year old girl who loved to dance; and a 21 year old engineer Student at the University of Dayton. The youngest was 14, the oldest 27.
Houston officials gave the names of the victims or the cause of the Death.
Thirteen people stayed in the hospital on Sunday. Their terms were not disclosed. Over 300 people were treated in a field hospital at the concert.
Detection: City officials said they are in the early stages of investigations into what caused the pandemonium at the sold-out Astroworld festival, an event founded by Scott. About 50,000 people were there.
Authorities said that, among other things, they will examine how the area around the stage has been designed.
Julio Patino from Naperville, Illinois, on business in London, received a call in the middle of the night informed him that his 21 year old son Franco was dead and said he had a lot of questions about what happened.
“These concerts should be controlled,” said Patino. “If you don’t know how to do it, you should have canceled the concert when you realized it was overcrowded.” He added, “You shouldn’t wait to see people lying lifeless on the floor.”
Steven Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance industry group, founded after a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 and killed seven people, helped write industry guidelines that are widely used today.
He said investigators will look into the design of the security barriers and whether they are properly directing the crowds or adding to the crowd. He also said authorities will look to see if anything incited the crowd other than Scott on stage.
Security staff: Adelman said another question was whether there were enough security guards there, noting that there is a shortage across the country of people willing to take part-time, low-wage security jobs.
âSecurity obviously wasn’t able to stop people. It looks really bad visually, âhe said. “But what it tells us is too early to say.”
Contemporary Services Corp. based in Los Angeles was, according to the county in Texas, responsible for the security staff of the festival. Representative for the company – the touts online as “globally recognized as a pioneer, expert, and only company owned by crowd management staff” – did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages asking for comments.
Officials from the Houston Police and Fire Department said their investigation will include reviewing videos recorded by the concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people on the show.
Officials also planned to review the event’s safety plan and various permits given to organizers to see if they were properly followed during the event. In addition, investigators planned to speak to representatives from Live Nation, Scott, and people who were at the concert.
The amount: Texas City’s Izabella Ramirez was celebrating her 21st birthday and said once Scott got on stage, no one could move.
âEveryone squeezed in and people tried to move forward. You couldn’t even raise your arms, âRamirez said.
Ramirez said a security guard pulled her over the barricade while her date, Jason Rodriguez, picked her up.
âEveryone was screaming for different things. They were either yelling for Travis or for help, âRodriguez said.
On a video posted on social media, Scott was seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Safety, someone helps really quickly.”
In a tweet posted on Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated by what happened”. He promised to “work with the Houston Ward to heal and support families in need.”
Associated Press Writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Randall Chase of Dover, Delaware; and Kristin M. Hall of Nashville contributed to this report.
Concertgoers at a highly anticipated Houston music festival Friday night said they were shocked to witness the event brew to a pandemonium that left at least eight people dead.
Rapper Travis Scott headlined the sold-out Astroworld Festival at NRG Park, which was attended by an estimated 50,000 people.
Here is a couple describing the chaos:
Ariel Little from New York was with her husband at a prime vantage point in the middle of the crowd for just a brief minute before she began to fight back.
In trying to escape the increasingly dense venue, the couple realized how dangerous it was getting.
Little’s voice trembled with emotion as she described how small she felt as she gasped as she was hit by the crowd.
âMy chest hurts so much because people squeeze and crush my chest and lungs – literally crush them. And all I can remember is just screaming for him. ‘I need to get out! I need to get out!’ And people didn’t move, âsaid Little. “They thought it was a joke, but it was like literally people were dying.”
Her husband Shawn quickly surveyed the scene to find a way out.
âThere were a lot of people in my department screaming and having panic attacks just because it almost feels like you are under an elevator and the elevator is coming down on you and there is nothing you can do about it. âSaid Shawn Little. âNobody in my section moved at the time because I think everyone was just shocked at how crazy and panicked everyone was. There was a lot of fear in the eyes of the people. “