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Astroworld deaths: Victims were as young as 14 in ‘mass casualty incident’ at Travis Scott festival

Elise Brisco


Crowd surging at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld music festival led to eight deaths and “scores” of injuries, according to authorities.

Officials declared the Houston concert a “mass casualty incident” after getting a call Friday evening to the festival that took place at NRG Park. An estimated 50,000 people were in attendance at what the festival’s website considered a sold-out show.

The surge began around the time that Scott, a festival headliner and founder, took the stage.

“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said at an overnight media briefing. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”

Here’s everything we know about the music festival that turned fatal.

How many Astroworld deaths, injuries?

According to Houston authorities, eight attendees died after what they describe as a crowd surge at the Astroworld festival Friday night shortly after 9 p.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Saturday afternoon news conference there were 25 people transported to the hospital, and 13 are still hospitalized. A 10-year-old is in critical condition, officials said. There were scores of other injuries, Peña said. At least 11 suffered cardiac arrest, he added.

The victims who died ranged in age from 14 to 27, Turner said. One person’s age was unknown. Autopsies will be performed before the victims are released to their families, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

Six of the eight victims’ names have been released, among them: Danish Baig, 27; Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23; Axel Acosta, 21; Franco Patino, 21; Brianna Rodriguez, 16; and John Hilgert, 14.

More:Astroworld Festival victims were teens, college students and at least one aspiring model

Officials who spoke during Saturday’s news conference did not confirm causes of death for the eight victims. Rodolfo Peña’s brother, Guadalupe Peña, told USA TODAY authorities said his brother died of cardiac arrest while at the show.

Many others were treated at the scene, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at that site throughout the day Friday.

Astroworld promoters had medical personnel and an emergency transport component at the festival that “were quickly overwhelmed” as the injury count mounted at what the fire chief described as a “really a chaotic event.”

What are Astroworld witnesses saying?

Astroworld festivalgoers said they witnessed dozens trampled by the massive crowd, teenagers giving each other CPR and fans screaming out for help that was slow to come Friday night.

“People were trying to get closer to Travis and ignored the pile of people they were stepping on. Some were crying, others were bleeding from their faces and I was the only one helping while the crowd just danced away,” professional DJ Billy Nasser told USA TODAY.

Nasser has worked and attended festivals such as Rolling Loud and said nothing compared to the “madness” he experienced at Astroworld. He noted there was a barricade around the crowd for Scott’s set that made it “nearly impossible” to get out.

‘They were not breathing’: Astroworld survivors recount bodies trampled, overwhelmed security

Rene Perez and Charles Alford also attended the festival and were shocked by the number of people passing out or being crushed by the crowd. As people in need were screaming, Perez said paramedics struggled to get through the crowd.

“It was insane and dangerous, it was dark and you saw people reaching their hands out from the ground, and me and my friend tried to help them,” Perez told USA TODAY. “It just felt like staffing was low, and it felt like we were the only ones helping.”

More witnesses react:Astroworld attendees call Travis Scott’s festival ‘dangerous,’ say help was slow to arrive

What is a crowd surge?

A crowd surge can occur at festivals, concerts and large events when attendees collectively push forward which can lead to large groups of people falling, shoving or being pressured to move past barricades.

Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was near the front of the crowd and said it seemed the surge at Friday’s concert ”happened all at once.”

“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.”

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to “speculate” about what caused the surge.

“I think it’s very important that none of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight,” Finner said. “We’re going to do an investigation and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anybody else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the surge,” he said.

How do crowd surges cause deaths?

It’s usually not because victims are trampled: They’re squeezed so hard they can’t get any oxygen.

When a crowd surges, the force can be strong enough to bend steel. It can also hit people from two directions: one from the rear of the crowd pushing forward and another from the front of the crowd trying to escape. If people have fallen, causing a pileup, pressure can even come from above. Victims’ lungs are caught in the middle.

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