by Matthew Parsons
On November 5th, tragedy struck at Astroworld Festival 2021 as ten people lost their lives and many more sustained injuries.
A crowd of 50,000 was live in Houston, Texas to watch rapper Travis Scott at his music festival, Astroworld. Throughout Travis’ set, a phenomenon known as “crowd surge” occurred, the tens of thousands who were there to witness the concert were jam packed together much too densely, leading many to lose their ability to breath. The inability to breathe is what ultimately caused these deaths.
Live Nation, the venue operator, stopped the show over a half hour after the mass casualty event began, around 30 minutes before it was planned to be over.
Scott continued to play his music and performing for the attendees, at times pausing mid-performance to acknowledge that there was something amiss in the crowd, but the show continued on.
More than 20 lawsuits have been filed that accuse organizers of failing to take crowd control more seriously and not staffing the event properly. The crowd surge was like an unstoppable wave, as although some were crowd surfed to safety, others collapsed in the crowd pleading for help and were left unable to be assisted, which led to hundreds of casualties.
Many fans in the crowd were pleading for help and the show to stop, but their cries were not answered. There were protocols for an event such as this taking place by the event organizers, but whether it was used can be called into question. According to the Houston Chronicle, there was a 56 page Event Operations Page that was there to ensure the safety of the 50,000 attendees.
“Astroworld, as an organization, will be prepared to evaluate and respond appropriately to emergency situations, so as to prevent or minimize injury or illness to guests, event personnel and the general public,” said this document.
However, according to the Associated Press, the plan didn’t include crowd surges like the one that occurred.
The event was severely understaffed, as the New York Times reported that 505 event security staffers, 91 armed private security officers and 76 uniformed Houston police officers were present at the festival.
Madeline Eskins, a concert goer and ICU nurse that the event asked for help, reported that the staff was missing Ambu bags, AEDs
Per Madeline Eskins’ post on Instagram, a concert goer and ICU nurse, the security staff asked for her help, the medical staff was missing Ambu bags, automated external defibrillators and experience with CPR.
“The medical staff didn’t have the tools to do their jobs, and despite the crowd around us trying to get someone to stop the concert, they just kept going, even though Travis acknowledged that someone in the crowed needed an ambulance,” said Eskins.
Travis Scott concerts have a history of injuries, and Scott himself has dealt with legal troubles concerning his performances. In 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to reckless conduct charges, in 2017, a fan who became paralyzed sued Scott and at the 2019 Astroworld Festival, a stampede left three people injured with leg injuries.