Tragedy at Astroworld 2021

Kacy Mull, Ranger Review Reporter

Over the weekend of November 8, 2021, tragedy struck at the Astroworld concert held in Huston, Texas by rapper Travis Scott. Dozens of people were injured, three remain in the hospital and at least 11 out of the 17 who were taken to the hospital are going into cardiac arrest. At this point, four days after Astroworld, nine people are dead, all ranging between the ages 14 and 27.

“Travis Scott Rodeo Tour in Toronto March 2015.” by thecomeupshow is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. Travis Scott on Rodeo Tour, 2015.

Astroworld was supposed to be a fun, music filled weekend with cameos from people like SZA and Bad Bunny. However, this exciting concert soon turned into a fight for survival. Only an hour into the concert, things began to take a turn for the worst. 

There was a countdown on stage that would announce when Travis Scott came on stage and the closer it got to zero, the closer people came to death. It didn’t take long for people to begin passing out in the crushed and crowded atmosphere. 

According to CNN, one fan TK Tellez described it as, “hard to breathe” and went on to say that, “When Travis came out performing his first song, I witnessed people passing out next to me.”

TK Tellez was also one of many people attempting to perform CPR on the people who were passed out but there were “just not enough people to help everyone,” he said. 

One individual whose life is threatened by the events at Astroworld is 9-year-old Ezra Blount, known simply as “EB”. He and his father attended the concert for a night of fun and bonding when the unthinkable happened. 

EB was on his father’s shoulders for the majority of the concert before his father suddenly passed out, causing EB to fall into the crowd of people and be trampled, which led to the 9-year-old going into cardiac arrest. According to his grandfather, EB is now in a medically induced coma with brain swelling, heart and lung issues, and liver damage.  

At least 40 lawsuits have been filed against individuals such as Travis Scott, Live Nation, and the rapper Drake, who performed alongside Scott over the tragedy. 

One such lawsuit was filed by Austin resident and injured Kristian Paredes, who described the performers as “negligent” for ignoring the riot behaviors and failing to take into account the previous history of Scott encouraging public disorder. Paredes’ injuries were described by the suit as something that would affect him for, possibly, the rest of his life. 

Event planner’s may be liable for the injuries and deaths, skipping legal steps to set up the performance, according to the mayor’s office. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released all permits “in the interest of transparency” and revealed that occupancy permits, which are required for events like Astroworld that are held entirely outside, were not issued. 

Witnesses also report that security was insufficient and the large crowd of people easily “plowed” their way through the security checkpoint. The event planning guide also told staff to refer to potential deceased as “Smurfs” due to the blue nature of being deprived of oxygen, suggesting that they may have expected this to happen but were still wholly unprepared for medical assistance. 

“The way the concert was set up, planned, organized, and the way things were handled once there was a problem, it boggles the mind,” lawyer Tony Buzbee said in an interview with Chron. Buzbee is suing on behalf of three dozen victims, including deceased 21-year-old Axel Acosta.

One concert goer that filed a lawsuit described the incident as a “predictable and preventable tragedy.”

In addition to this, several lawyers say legal action is also likely to focus on an unexplained delay between the time city officials declared a “mass casualty event” and when the concert organizers finally stopped the show, a 37 minute gap during which the crowd kept rushing toward the stage, collapsing and getting crushed.

Scott’s past may play a decisive role in the outcome of the lawsuits, his past of encouraging rowdy crowd behavior and public disobedience. 

For example, one past incident in 2017. Scott encouraged a fan to jump from a second-floor balcony and during the same performance, another fan was pushed off the third-floor balcony and ended up paralyzed.

In the past, Scott has repeatedly urged concert crowds to overwhelm security and join him onstage, saying “there are more of you than them” at 2015’s Summer Jam concert. That same summer, Chicago police arrested him for urging to climb over barricades to go onstage at Lollapalooza. 

This is worsened by the video evidence of Scott continuing his performance despite pleads from the crowd to stop and help those who needed medical attention. Some videos even include evidence of Scott pausing the concert several times when he sees ambulances and flashing lights from police cars in the distance but resuming the concert. He did stop the concert and told security to help one man who passed out but continued to play. 

At one point during the night, Travis cut all music and heard people yelling for a medic before instructing fans to raise their middle fingers because they are “ready to rage”. Fans even made their way to ladders around the stage and climbed on each other’s shoulders in a feeble attempt to get the camera man’s attention, which they did before he promptly ushered them off of the stage. 

Following examinations of the deceased and reports of someone injecting people with drugs, several people having to be revived with the anti-overdose drug Narcan including one of the security officers that received medical attention, a criminal investigation has now been opened by Huston police.