August 18, 2022

Learning from the Astroworld tragedy

On Nov. 5, Travis Scott held a performance at his Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 10 people after a crowd surge. 

As a result of a stampede, 25 people were hospitalized and eight were confirmed dead the night of the concert. Two more people died later on in the hospital. One person who died was a 9-year-old boy. 

Houston officials estimated around 50,000 people attended the concert. Around 9:30 p.m. the concert transcended into chaos when many fans began pushing to the front.

Fans were falling on top of each other, passing out, and struggling to breathe.

Concert-goer Sienna Faith shared her experience on Instagram. 

“The rush of people became tighter and tighter. Breathing became something only a few were capable of. The rest were crushed or unable to breathe…,” Faith wrote. 

Another Astroworld attendee, Baheer Kashif, described the series of events in an Instagram post, as well.

“Less than 30 seconds in(to Scott’s performance), the screams of terror and cries for help had already started,” Kashif wrote. “I remember I had both of my forearms hugged stuck to my chest, and eventually my rib cage was being squished in…”

The concert was stopped around 40 minutes after city officials stated the mass casualty event had begun. It is currently unclear when Scott and concert organizers became aware of the severity of the situation. 

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner says police are in the early stages of an investigation which could take months to complete. 

When it comes to criminal charges against the event staff or Travis Scott, the future is unclear.

“I’m not sure and not comfortable with saying that,” Finner said. “I will tell you we’re not going to leave any stones unturned.”

So far, over 100 lawsuits have been filed.

Scott is no stranger to being in legal trouble when it comes to his concert conduct. 

In 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to reckless conduct charges after Chicago officials said he encouraged fans to vault security barricades at a Lollapalooza concert. 

In 2017, Scott was arrested after encouraging fans to bypass security and rush the stage, injuring multiple people, at a concert in Arkansas. 

When it comes to Scott’s responsibility for the incident at Astroworld, many feel he is to blame.

According to a Twitter poll run by the Chimes, of those who voted, 84% believed Scott was at fault for the tragedy at Astroworld, and 16% believed he was not. 

A similar crowd surge resulting in 11 deaths took place at a 1979 “The Who” concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The band blamed the disaster on “first-come seating” which encouraged fans to push to the front, similar to the Astroworld incident. A large number of fans pushed through a set of open venue doors all at once causing trampling and deaths by asphyxiation. 

In the chance that someone finds themselves in a crowd surge situation, there are some things that can help minimize chances of injury or death. 

Experts recommend trying to conserve your oxygen and energy: resist screaming or moving against the crowd. Try your hardest to remain upright on your feet, but if you do end up falling, get in the fetal position with your left side on the ground. 

The most important thing to remember is if you feel the crowd closing in on you and find it is becoming difficult to move; get out while you can.

The Astroworld investigation will continue to unfold in the future, hopefully providing more answers and leading to awareness about concert safety.

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