Friday, November 26, 2021

Barriers and crowd control in the spotlight of deaths at concerts in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) – Investigators are expected to study the design of the safety fences and the use of crowd control to determine what caused the audience clash at the Houston Music Festival, which killed eight people and injured hundreds.

Authorities planned to use videos, witness interviews and a review of concert procedures to find out what went wrong Friday night during rapper Travis Scott’s performance. Tragedy unfolded as the crowd rushed onto the stage, squeezing people so hard they couldn’t breathe.

Billy Nasser, 24, who had traveled from Indianapolis to attend the concert, said that about 15 minutes after Scott’s performance, things got “really crazy” and people started crushing each other. He said that he “gathered people and tried to get them out.”

Nasser said he found a concert lover on earth.

“I picked it up. People were advancing on him. People were like trampling, and I lifted his head and looked into his eyes, and his eyes were just white, rolled back to the back of his head, ”he said.

Over the weekend, an impromptu monument of flowers, candles, condolence notes and T-shirts was erected on NRG Park Street.

Michael Suarez, 26, visited the growing memorial after the concert.

“It’s very destructive. Nobody wants to see or hear people dying at the festival, ”Suarez said. “We were here to have a good time – to have a great time – and it’s awful to hear someone die.”

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Among the dead, according to friends and family members, was a 14-year-old high school student; 16-year-old girl who loved dancing; and a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Dayton. The youngest was 14, the oldest was 27.

Houston officials did not immediately reveal the names of the victims or the cause of death, but family and friends began to name their loved ones and tell their stories. Sunday.

On Sunday, 13 people remained in the hospital. Their terms were not disclosed. More than 300 people were treated at a concert in a field hospital.

City officials said they are in the early stages of investigating what caused the crowd at the sold-out Astroworld festival, an event Scott founded. There were about 50 thousand people there.

The authorities said that, among other things, they would consider how the space around the stage was designed.

Julio Patino, from Naperville, Illinois, who was in London on business when he received a call at night to inform him that his 21-year-old son Franco was dead, said he had many questions about what happened.

“These concerts need to be monitored,” Patino said. “If they don’t know how to do it, they should have canceled the concert right when they noticed there was a crowd of people.” He added: “They shouldn’t wait until they see people lying lifeless on the floor.”

Stephen Adelman, VP of Industry Group Event Safety Alliance, which was formed after the 2011 Indiana State Fair scene collapsed, killing seven people, helped write the industry guidelines commonly used today.

Apart from considering security barriers and whether they are guiding the crowd correctly or if they are helping to nudge the audience, Adelman said, the authorities will monitor whether the crowd was incited by something other than Scott entering the stage.

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Adelman said another question is whether there is enough security, noting that there is a shortage of people across the country willing to work with low-paid part-time security personnel.

“The guards were clearly unable to stop the people. Optically, this is really bad, ”he said. “But as for what he’s telling us, it’s too early to tell.”

Contemporary Services Corp. headquartered in Los Angeles was responsible for security at the festival, according to the county in Texas. Representatives of the company, which advertises on the Internet as “recognized worldwide as a pioneer, expert and the only employee-owned crowd control company,” did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment.

Houston police and fire officials said their investigation would include watching a video filmed by the Live Nation concert promoter, as well as dozens of clips from the show’s participants.

Officials also planned to review the event’s security plan and various permits issued to organizers to ensure they were being properly followed. In addition, investigators planned to speak with representatives of Live Nation, Scott and concertgoers.

Isabella Ramirez from Texas City celebrated her 21st birthday and said that once Scott walked on stage, no one could move.

“Everyone was gagging and people were trying to move forward. You couldn’t even raise your hands, ”Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the guard dragged her over the barricade while her partner, Jason Rodriguez, lifted her.

“Everyone was shouting about different things. They either shouted at Travis or for help, ”Rodriguez said.

In the video posted on social networks, one could see how Scott at some point stopped the concert and asked for help for someone from the audience: “Security, someone, help very quickly.”

Such disasters at concerts, sporting events and even 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 past mass 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.

Experts who studied riot deaths they are said to be often the result of too many people being packed into too small a space.

Also on Sunday, one of the first of many pending lawsuits was filed on behalf of an injured person in a Houston court. Manuel Sousa’s lawyers have sued Scott, Live Nation and others, claiming they are responsible.

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated by what happened.” He pledged to work “with the Houston community to heal and support families in need.”

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Associated Press Writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware; Christine M. Hall of Nashville and Bob Christie of New Bloomfield, PA contributed to this report.

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