HOUSTON (AP) – Emergency plans for the Astroworld music festival did not include protocols for dangerous crowd jumps like the one that took place during the rush to meet headliner Travis Scott, which killed eight people and injured hundreds of others, including a 9-year-old is an old boy whose relatives said he was in a coma.
The Houston concert venue, where a crowd of fans pushed forward during the rapper’s Friday night performance, remains largely in place as authorities continue a criminal investigation. More than 20 claims have already been filed accusing the organizers of not taking simple riot containment measures or employees properly.
The Houston Police, along with the Fire Department, have played a key role in ensuring safety. at a sold-out house, which brought together 50,000 people. The head of the Houston Fire Department spoke out against on Tuesday, saying firefighters were not present at the festival and did not receive a radio to communicate directly with the organizers.
Hundreds of people were injured on the spot and at least 13 were hospitalized. Among them was a 9-year-old boy who attended the festival with his father but, according to family members, split up as the crowd became dangerous.
Bernon Blount said his grandson Ezra was in a medical coma at the Houston hospital on Tuesday, and that the boy’s heart, lungs and brain were damaged in hand-to-hand combat.
“My son, when he passed out from the pressure put on him during the concert, he passed out and Ezra fell into the crowd,” Blount told The Associated Press. “When my son woke up, Ezra was gone.”
The 56-page action plan for the Astroworld Music Festival included protocols for hazardous scenarios, including heavy gunfire, bombs or terrorist threats, and harsh weather. But there was no information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.
“In any situation where large groups of people gather, there is the potential for civil unrest / unrest that could pose a serious threat to the safety of staff and guests,” the plan says. “The key to properly handling this scenario is to manage the crowd correctly from the moment the doors are opened. Crowd management techniques will be used to detect potentially dangerous crowd behavior in the early stages in order to prevent civil unrest / unrest. ”
Experts say the crowd is dying happens because people are so tightly packed in space that they are compressed and they cannot get oxygen. This usually does not happen because they are being trampled.
Authorities said part of their investigation would include checking whether the concert organizer and others behind the festival adhered to the plans presented.
Marty Lankton, president of the Houston Association of Professional Firefighters, said the firefighters had asked festival organizers to provide a radio so they could communicate directly with each other. Lankton said firefighters were given a list of mobile phone numbers to call during an emergency.
“We do not use mobile phones for emergencies. We use radio. We need direct contact because as the situation evolves, seconds matter, ”Lankton said.
He said that a group of four firefighters housed inside a mobile command van in a nearby parking lot starting at 7 am on Friday. Without direct communication with the organizers of the festival, the firefighters in the van controlled six different radio frequencies to keep track of what was happening, he said.
The organizers of the festival have signed a contract with New York-based ParaDocs for the provision of all medical services at the festival. The 22-page plan, which the company presented to local authorities ahead of the festival, said an estimated 70,000 visitors – more than the actual number of visitors – and planned a daily staff of more than 80 ambulance doctors, doctors, registered nurses and supervisors.
ParaDocs said in a statement on Tuesday that the company was “prepared for the size of the facility and the expected audience with a trained medical and ambulance team,” and that it is working with investigators.
Investigators from the Houston Police and Fire Department said they are studying surveillance videos provided by the Live Nation concert promoter, as well as dozens of clips of the show’s participants that were widely shared on social media.
Scott, who founded the Astroworld festival, said he would cover the costs of the victims’ funerals. According to the Harris County authorities, the death toll ranged from 14 to 27 years old. They were from Texas, Illinois and Washington state. Among them were high school students, an aspiring border patrol agent and computer science student.
Astroworld and emergency medical records filed with Harris County and received by the AP state that “the major concerns are the likelihood of multiple alcohol / drug incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the continued threat of mass casualties. “
The festival took place in a parking lot that is part of NRG Park, a complex of stadiums, arena and convention center.
Lawyers representing those injured or killed during the festival were given access to the venue on Tuesday to inspect and photograph the site. Ryan MacLeod, representing several of the people injured during the concert, said that in the area where Scott was holding his concert, people seemed to have nowhere to go when they entered.
Such disasters at concerts, sports and religious events have a long history. In 1979, 11 people were killed when thousands of fans tried to enter the Riverfront Colosseum in Cincinnati to see The Who concert.… Other massive disasters including the death of 97 people at a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 in Sheffield, England, and numerous disasters associated with the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber of Austin, Texas contributed to this report.