Eight People Died, Including A 14-Year-Old And 16-Year-Old, At Astroworld Festival After A Crowd Surge
At least eight people, including two minors, were killed and dozens more were injured at the Astroworld music festival in Texas on Friday night after the crowd surged toward the stage, officials said.
The eight people who died included a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old, two 21-year-olds, two 23-year-olds, and a 27-year-old, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Saturday. One victim's age was not yet determined.
At around 9 p.m., during rapper Travis Scott's set at the sold-out concert in Houston, the crowd "began to compress towards the front of the stage," Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said at a press conference late Friday.
"That caused some panic and it began to cause some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic," he said.
The "mass casualty incident" happened at around 9:38 p.m., Peña said. Twenty-five people, 11 of them in cardiac arrest, were transported to hospitals.
As of Saturday, Turner said, 13 people are still hospitalized, including five people under the age of 18. A 10-year-old is in critical condition.
Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the crowd, said Friday that the mass casualty incident "seemed like it happened just over the course of a few minutes."
"Suddenly we had several people down on the ground experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode. We immediately started doing CPR and moving people right then," he said.
Satterwhite said he then went to meet with the event promoters and Live Nation, the organizer, and they "agreed to end early in the interest of public safety."
Video from the concert shows Scott, who was performing, stop his show as an ambulance makes its way through the crowd. "What the fuck is that?" he says, pointing at the ambulance.
Scott's girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, who was at the concert and shared videos from the back of the audience, also appeared to capture an emergency services vehicle driving slowly through the massive crowd.
The rapper addressed the incident in a statement Saturday, saying he was "absolutely devastated" by what happened the night before.
"My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," Scott said. "Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life."
It's unclear what happened exactly that led to the deaths and injuries, and officials urged people not to speculate. Peña said the medical examiner is investigating the cause of death of the eight people who were killed.
"Our hearts are broken," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories. It’s not the kind of event where you expect to find out about fatalities."
Though event promoters had medical services and transport units on site, Peña said, they were "quickly overwhelmed when the crowd started falling out," prompting dozens of fire department units to step in and help. More than 300 people were treated at the field hospital.
Officials said 50,000 people were at the concert when the incident happened. Peña told reporters Saturday that there is no occupancy permit for an outdoor event. According to fire code assembly occupancy, he added, the venue could have accommodated over 200,000 people, but it was limited to 50,000 at the event.
Astroworld, an annual music festival produced by Scott, was sold out in under an hour this year when tickets were released in May. About 100,000 people were expected to attend the event, which the Houston rapper headlined, Variety reported. The festival was not held last year because of the pandemic.
In a statement addressing the tragedy early Saturday, organizers said they were supporting local officials in their investigation. The Saturday concert has been canceled.
SZA, who performed before Scott's set, tweeted Saturday that she was "speechless about last night."
She wrote, "I’m actually in shock n don’t even know what to say .. just praying for everyone in Houston especially the families of those that lost their lives."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state's Department of Public Safety will support the investigation.
Officials said at Saturday's press conference that there were 528 police officers providing security, in addition to 755 private security officers, according to Live Nation.
"This has not happened to us ever in Houston since I’ve been a police officer," Police Chief Troy Finner said.
One alleged narrative about Friday night's events, he added, was that someone in the crowd was injecting other people with drugs. This rumor stemmed from one report from medical staff of a security officer who reached into the crowd to restrain a citizen and felt a prick in his neck. Medical staffers examined the officer, who lost consciousness, and administered Narcan, Finner said. The police chief said that the prick on the officer's neck was similar to that of an injection.
He urged people to "follow the facts and the evidence" and avoid spreading unfounded rumors circulating on social media out of respect for the families.