What Happened In Houston Texas – Festivalgoers can be seen on Friday, November 5, 2021, during the first day of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)Amy Harris/Associated Press
Walking through the turnstiles at Astroworld last Friday, Jacob Hickey realized something was wrong. Having attended more than 50 shows since age 12 and returning from a weekend with his girlfriend at the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco, Hickey felt he could quickly recognize visual hazards.
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“Nothing made sense,” says Hickey, 30, a California native who is pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Houston. Astroworld’s main stage had limited stands that divided the crowd and accommodated their movement, a narrow corridor for security and medical personnel to enter the middle of the crowd, a few water stations set up for patrons, and the main festival. The limited exit points from the venue .
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As showtime for Travis Scott’s show neared, festival goers at venues watching artists like Yves Tumor and Don Tolliver began to press in from all angles on the already expectant and bustling crowd on the main stage. “One side was the stage, the other side was the concession stands, and the walls of the crowd were pushing in from the sides,” says Mason Rodriguez, 23, who strategically found a spot behind a tree for himself and his girlfriend. Once they realized. The show can get out of hand. “You are fenced. He couldn’t get out,” he adds.
“We were so close,” said Jonathan Garza, 19, who attended his first concert and arrived early with his girlfriend, hoping to get a front-row seat for Scott’s headlining performance. “About an hour before the show started, I felt like we should go. Everyone was pushing and throwing things. When they started the 30-minute countdown at 8:30, everything went crazy. As such, we could not move. We were stuck, we were scared, and we knew we had to get out.
As thousands jockeyed for position and a better view of the stage, the crowd of more than 50,000 formed a dangerous body mass, causing panic and a wave that has so far left hundreds injured and at least 10 dead. Including 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who was watching the show over his father’s shoulder before the two fell. Many of them believe that security lapses and failures in setting up the festival grounds, especially the lack of signage, exits and clear pathways for security and medical personnel, were a major cause of the disaster. As of press time, festival organizers did not return requests for comment.
“How can anyone respond [to a crisis] if there’s no way to access the people at the center?” says AJ Faber, co-owner of Tourniquet, which handles logistics, production and staffing for live concert events, and has worked as a tour manager for bands like The National and Grimes for more than a decade. “[The set-up] was clearly inadequate. They did the minimum, but there would be another cordon for security between sections,” he said, adding that this would have divided the crowd into manageable quadrants.
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The parking lot of the NRG Center on Monday, Nov. 8, is littered with debris from the Friday night Astroworld main stage featuring Travis Scott after what authorities described as a “mass casualty” incident that left 10 people dead. 2021. , in Houston. Mark Mulligan/Staff Photographer
Faber says a central aisle is about 10 feet wide for two-way traffic, so crews can move from the front of the house to the back, and the rails include long ledges to provide a big advantage for safety and easy access to fight crowds and provide emergency aid—standard for events the size of Astroworld. Crowd support also helps limit the snowball effect of a wave. “Split barricades effectively eliminate how far a rush can travel,” she says. “If people start falling and end up hitting a barricade, that’s bad. You averted disaster. But they don’t affect at least 10,000 people, which is a very difficult event to deal with.
The safety failures began earlier in the day, according to an operational log kept by the Houston Fire Department (HFD) and obtained by USA TODAY. At 8:15 a.m. Friday, there were reports of an active crowd gathering at the security perimeters, prompting a police lieutenant to request riot gear, the paper said. There were incidents of at least 10 people breaking down the gates, including some participants using bolt cutters, and at 12:17 around 150 people rushed the gates at Kirby and Westridge.
“I heard a lot of side chatter — people bragging about paying security to get in for free,” Rodriguez says. “There were a lot of people who shouldn’t have been there, so I’m sure they were overcapacity.” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said at a news conference Saturday that the festival grounds could have held “more than 200,000” people, but festival organizers estimated at least 5,000 people attended the event without tickets.
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Hickey said he’s seen many concertgoers flow uncontrollably through the front door without wristbands. He noted that unlike other concerts he attended, no one was pampered. “People were carrying bottles of alcohol – you could see the shapes of the bottles in their pockets – and a lot of drugs.” Hickey said the cargo area was chaotic with no staff to direct people or monitor the lines. The influx of people without the usual security measures created a jam as people entered the main stage area.
Lil Baby performs at Astroworld Festival on Friday, November 5, 2021 at NRG Park. Jamal Ellis/Contributor
From Hickey’s position in a handicap-accessible viewing area at the back of the venue, he and his girlfriend were on a raised platform that gave them a wide view of the stage. Before the concert began, Hickey observed that the space below was overflowing. “About 50 to 60 people got behind the projection screens and nobody stopped them,” he said. “There they were, two floors up in open electronics, and I didn’t see any security telling them to get off.”
Hickey describes the concert as immediately spiraling out of control. “Every time people tried to get out other participants were pulling them through the back gates to safety,” he says. “Everyone was desperate to get out. I could see their faces. They wanted no part of it.
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Hickey saw a paramedic performing CPR on a girl outside his ward. “It took about 30 minutes to stop the concert because nobody could pick her up and put her in the ambulance.” Hickey recalls Travis stopping the concert “for a minute, just once” and returning to his performance before telling the crowd to “point your middle finger to the sky.” Other concertgoers noted that he had to interrupt the show at least three times.
On “CBS Mornings,” Travis Scott’s spokeswoman Stephanie Rawlings-Blake explained the festival’s safety action plan, “which clearly states that the only two people who have the authority to stop a concert are the executive producer and the producer of the concert. , Scott “wasn’t responsible for that, but he wants to be responsible for the solution.”
Out of desperation, people began moving barriers into the handicapped section of the concert, Hickey says, crowding the area. “Imagine people pushing from both sides to the center. You can’t swim against the current to get out, so the only option was to fight your way out,” he says. By the end of the concert, he says, he knew one thing: “We’re never going to do this again. We were safer than anyone else at the concert, and we still didn’t feel safe.
Ten people died after being injured at the Astroworld festival at NRG Park on November 5. Jamal Ellis, Houston iicle / Contributor
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Garza and his girlfriend weren’t so lucky. Wanting to ditch some of Friday’s previous shows for prime seating for Travis Scott’s headlining show, the duo hit the main stage four hours ahead of schedule at 5 p.m. They chose a spot to the left of the center barricade, about four people deep from the fenced-in front section for VIPs. But before Scott came on stage, they decided to leave and forced their way out. “The crowd pushed us, pushed us forward,” he says.
Garza only took 10 steps before collapsing. “I could see others trying to get out,” he says. “Me and Melissa fell out
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