The “mass-casualty” incident occurred during Scott’s headline performance at the event, with Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Peña saying: “The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries.”
Madeline Eskins, an intensive care unit nurse, was in the crowd on Friday night and shared her experience on Instagram. “I passed out because people were pushing up against me so much that I couldn’t breathe,” she wrote, continuing to explain that her boyfriend had managed to get the people around them to crowd surf her to where security guards could help her.
When she regained consciousness, Eskins said she “looked around and people were getting carried out with eyes rolled back into their heads by security, bleeding from their nose and mouth”. She said that security staff had asked her to help the medics give medical assistance and that there was only one Ambu bag, one stretcher and one automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand “for three – now four – people who are pulseless and blue”.
The nurse also reported that she spent the remainder of the show “doing compressions, bagging and helping move people to stretchers and checking pulses on new bodies as they got crowd surfed to where we were”. “People were begging the crew operating the stage lights and stuff around us to stop the concert and they wouldn’t,” she said.
“I am so disappointed and sad. Finally cops showed up with more stretchers and started getting people out but I know at least 2 individuals had been pulseless for 15 minutes minimum before they got on a stretcher.”
Nick Johnson and Angel Rodriguez, who also attended Astroworld yesterday, told CNN that the crush “got worse and worse” and “was going on for over two hours”. “You just can’t breathe, you just feel like there’s a weighted blanket on you,” Johnson said.
“Everyone just started pushing to the front,” Rodriguez added. “It was so hard to breathe up there, you just have to wait until it pushes back, because if it [the crowd] gets pushed forward, it’s likely going to get pushed back. When you get pushed back, people always fall over.”
He continued: “It was so hard to move your arms and it was so hard to breathe, that I was there, like pushing whoever was in front of me just like to, get a breather, just to breathe.”
Instagram user @seannafaith also shared their account of the tragic incident, describing the crowded festival site. “Every gap was filled, where your feet were placed was where they stayed,” they wrote.
The festival-goer said the surge started within the first 30 seconds of Scott’s opening song and that “the rush of people became tighter and tighter”. “My friend began to gasp for breath, and she told me we needed to get out,” they wrote. “We tried. There was nowhere to go. The shoving got harder and harder. If someone’s arms had been up, it was no longer a possibility to put it down. So, people began to choke one another as the mass swayed. It became more and more violent. We began to scream for help.”
They continued to say that the crowd “begged security to help us, for the performer to see us and know something was wrong”, but “none of that came”. They went on to detail “sinkholes of people”. “No one knew there were people below those that they could see,” they said.
They explained how they climbed up onto a platform where a cameraman was filming the event “and pointed to the hole, telling him people were dying”. “He told me to get off the platform and continued filming,” they said. “I screamed over and over again. He wouldn’t even look in the direction, so I pushed the camera so it pointed toward where I had just come from.
“He became angry. He called someone else up. I told him the same thing. People were dying, we needed to stop the music, we needed help, we needed attention towards the mass because I thought if only these people were aware, maybe they would do something. The other man grabbed my arm and told me he would push me off the 15ft platform with no sides if I didn’t get down.”
They added: “I screamed people were dying over and over. No one would listen.”
Other festival-goers have shared footage of fans shouting at the camera crews to help raise the alarm about what was happening in the crowd, only to be ignored.
— Ethan Froneberger (@LDCMOA) November 6, 2021
— Ashmely?? (@Ashmelym) November 6, 2021
Sarai Sierra also told CNN that she thought “if I fell it would have been the end of me”. “In total, I saw about 20 people who could not breathe getting out of the crowd and I saw one person in front of me have a seizure. It felt like we were drowning in a pool filled of just people.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has now released a statement on the incident, calling it “a tragedy”. “An estimated 50,000 people attended the event Friday night, expecting to enjoy a music concert with friends and return home safely,” Turner said. “I extend my condolences to the families of the eight people who died and the approximately 17 people who were injured at the event. Many of them suffered cardiac arrest.”
— City of Houston (@HoustonTX) November 6, 2021
The mayor continued: “This was a major event that happened in the city and on Harris County property. Today, law enforcement will speak with concert promoters and witnesses and review videos available from the event and inside the festival venue.
“I have called for a detailed briefing from all stakeholders, including Live Nation, Harris County, NRG Park, Police, Fire, Office of Emergency Management, and other agencies, explaining how the event got out of control leading to the deaths and injuries of several attendees.”
This morning (November 6), a statement was posted on the official Astroworld Festival social media accounts. “Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight – especially those we lost and their loved ones,” it read. It also confirmed that today’s leg of the event had been cancelled.
Travis Scott has since shared his own statement online, saying he is “absolutely devastated” by the tragedy. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need,” he added.