Friday, November 26, 2021

Mourning begins as Houston officials investigate concert deaths

HOUSTON (NWN) — Investigators worked Sunday to determine how eight people died in a fan crush at a Houston concert, as families mourn the dead and the horror and confusion of crowds at concerts. Said of

Officials plan to use videos, witness interviews and concert reviews to find out what went wrong Friday night during rapper Travis Scott’s performance. The tragedy unfolded when the crowd reached the stage, squeezing people so tightly that they could not breathe.

Billy Nassar, 24, who traveled from Indianapolis to attend the concert, said that about 15 minutes into Scott’s set, things got “really crazy” and people started crushing on each other. He said he was “picking up people and trying to get them out.”

Nasser said he found a concertgoer on the ground.

“I picked him up. People were climbing over him. People were like stumpings, and I raised his head and I looked at his eyes, and his eyes were all white, rolled up the back of his head,” he said.

Over the weekend, a temporary memorial of flowers, votive candles, condolence notes and T-shirts took shape outside NRG Park.

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

“It’s so devastating. No one wants to see or hear people die at a festival,” Suarez said. “We came here to have a good time – a good time – and it is devastating to hear that someone dies. Has gone.”

More on music festival deaths

According to friends and family members, a 14-year-old high school student was among the dead; a 16-year-old girl who loved to dance; and a 21 year old engineering student at the University of Dayton. The youngest was 14 years old, the eldest 27 years old.

Houston officials did not immediately reveal the victims’ names or causes of death, but family and friends began naming their loved ones and telling their stories. Sunday.

13 people were hospitalized on Sunday. Their terms were not disclosed. More than 300 people were treated in a field hospital in concert.

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

Officials said that among other things, they would see how the area around the stage was designed.

Julio Patino of Naperville, Illinois, who was on business in London when he received a middle-of-the-night call informing him that his 21-year-old son, Franco, was dead, said he had no clue about what happened. There were many questions.

“These concerts should be regulated,” Patino said. “If they didn’t know how to do it, they should have canceled the concert when they noticed there was a crowd.” He continued: “They should not wait until they see people lying on the floor, lifeless.”

Steven Edelman, vice president of industry group Event Safety Alliance, Which was created after a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 that killed seven people, helping to write the industry guidelines widely used today.

He said investigators would examine the design of the security barriers and whether they guided the crowd correctly or contributed to the crushing of onlookers. He also said officials would look into whether the crowd instigated anything other than Scott going on stage.

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Another question, Edelman said, is whether there were adequate protections, given that there is a nationwide lack of people willing to take low-paying, part-time security gigs.

“Security was apparently unable to stop people. Alternatively, it’s going to look really bad,” he said. “But as far as it tells us, it’s too early to say.”

According to county records in Texas, Contemporary Services Corp., headquartered in Los Angeles, was responsible for security staff at the festival. Representatives from the company — which advertises online as a “leader, specialist and sole employee-owned company recognized worldwide in the crowd management field” — did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment.

Houston police and fire department officials said their investigation would include a review of videos taken by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips of people on the show.

The officials also planned to review the security plan of the event and the various permits issued to the organizers to see if they were properly followed. In addition, investigators planned to speak with representatives of Live Nation, Scott and the concerts.

Texas City’s Isabella Ramirez was celebrating her 21st birthday and said that once Scott got on stage, no one could move.

“Everyone was going inside, and people were trying to get themselves to the front. You couldn’t even raise your arms,” ​​Ramirez said.

Ramirez said a security guard pulled him over the barricade while his date, Jason Rodriguez, picked him up.

“Everyone was screaming for different things. They were either screaming for Travis or they were screaming for help,” Rodriguez said.

In the video posted to social media, Scott can be seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Safety, someone helps really quickly.”

Similar devastation at concerts, sporting events and even religious events has a long history. In 1979, 11 people were killed as thousands of fans tried to go to Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum to watch a concert by The Who.. Other past mob mayhem A football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England in 1989 killed 97 people and included several disasters related to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Experts studying deaths due to overcrowding They say they are often the result of too many people packed into a too small space.

Also on Sunday, at least two of the many expected lawsuits were filed in state court in Houston on behalf of a man injured in a crush of people. Lawyers for Manuel Souza sued Scott, Live Nation and others, saying they were responsible. Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of Noah Gutierrez by Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who has represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black people killed by police.

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

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Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware; Kristin M. in Nashville. Hall and Bob Christie in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

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A previous version of this story was corrected to show that Travis Scott is 30, not 29.

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