On Friday night, Nov. 5, a “mass casualty incident” occurred when audience members tried to get closer to the stage during the performance by rapper Travis Scott at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.
There were about 50,000 people in attendance at the music festival, but the event turned tragic around 9 p.m. when the Houston native rapper took the stage. At least eight people died, and 23 were hospitalized, including a 10-year-old child as people were crushed due to a panic-fueled stampede of concertgoers who pushed their way closer to the stage during the rapper’s performance.
“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters at a news conference. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner later announced Saturday afternoon that the eight victims ranged from 14 to 27 years old. More than 300 of the 50,000 attendees were treated at a field hospital on the grounds, and at least 11 people were hospitalized suffering cardiac arrest.
Scott’s performance finished eventually, but fan videos and witness statements published to The Daily Beast show him continuing to perform. Meanwhile, fans and paramedics performed CPR on concertgoers who had passed out. In other footage, a cameraman ignores the audience pleading with him to halt the show because people are dying.
Fans were seen dancing on top of emergency cars as they attempted to aid unconscious people.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated” by what happened yesterday night and vowed to give his “total support” to investigators.
Madeline Eskins, an ICU nurse who has also worked in ER, was stuck in a crowd near the stage’s front and claimed she feared she would die.
“I’ve seen people die. Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed last night,” Eskins, 23, told The Daily Beast. “I was about to tell my boyfriend to tell my son that I loved him, because I really thought that I was not gonna see him again. And before I could say anything, I fainted.”
According to The Blaze, the enormous surge “happened all at once,” said Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the crowd. He went on to say that security realized it was time to halt the show early at that time.
“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and Live Nation, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety.”
“A lot of times, kids don’t make the best decisions,” Satterwhite added. “Because they’re young and amped up. … I just think it was so many people—and passion—to see this entertainer. I don’t know, and a lot of bad decisions.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner stated that an investigation is needed to determine what caused the fatal incident and confirm the deceased’s identities.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said, “Our hearts are broken. People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories. It’s not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities. … Obviously, this is the last place we want to be—especially after we’ve been through so much as a community. But we have incredibly capable law enforcement officials here.”