Two Naperville Natives Killed at Astroworld Festival in Houston

The Astroworld Festival in Houston was a much-anticipated event this year, with music fans flocking to the large concert. Unfortunately, this year's concert ended in tragedy. At least eight people died and considerably more suffered from serious injuries while rapper Travis Scott performed on the night of Friday, November 6th.

What Is the Astroworld Festival?

The Astroworld Festival, an event founded by Travis Scott, began in 2018. Its name comes from Scott's album of the same name, which in turn took inspiration from Six Flags AstroWorld, a now-closed Houston theme park that Scott visited as a child.

Because the event could not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year was the third Astroworld Festival. More than 50,000 people attended.

The festival lineup included performances from top artists like Tame Impala, SZA, Bad Bunny, Earth, Wind, & Fire, 21 Savage, and more. This year’s theme was "Open Your Eyes to a Whole New Universe.”

What Happened at the Event?

The tragedy at the event was the result of a crowd surge. Surges occur when a crowd begins to press closer to the stage. This can lead to panic among the people who are in the crowd, especially those near the front. People closest to the stage might attempt to force their way out, while people further back may try to push back away from the stage or get to the outside of the crowd. People who have been in surges have described feeling as though they have no room to move.

When the crowd surged at Astroworld, people began to suffer injuries, including some who fell unconscious, noted Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña. The increased panic likely led to further injuries as concert attendees struggled to get out of the area and protect themselves.

Eight people died and dozens suffered injuries during the event, including a ten-year-old who remains in critical condition. 25 people required hospitalization. The deceased victims range in age from 14 to 27, according to USA Today.

Two Illinois Residents Were Among the Eight Concert-Goers Killed

Illinois residents killed in the surge included 21-year-old Franco Patino. His brother Cesar described Franco as an "amazing person" who "loved to have joy and fun in his life, and wanted to be living his life to the fullest." Patino was a senior at Dayton University, where he majored in mechanical engineering technology.

The other Illinois victim was Jacob "Jake" Jurinek, 20, Patino's best friend. Jurinek was a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he was pursuing a passion for art and media. Friends described Jurinek as someone who was "the center of attention in every room he was in," and who was eager to ask questions, dig deeper, and learn more.

The Music Festival Continued Despite Warning Signs

Astroworld has seen challenges in the past that might have served as red flags to the event organizers, who should have realized that there was potential for a problem at this highly-charged event. In 2019, the last time the festival took place, three people were trampled and hospitalized with severe leg injuries during the initial rush to get into the festival.

Unfortunately, Astroworld coordinators moved forward with this year's event despite these warning signs that could have indicated trouble ahead.

Early Challenges with Crowd Control

Before the event even began, fans breached security gates while entering the festival grounds and continued to push forward, ignoring warning signs. Security was unable to get the event back under control and exercise reasonable crowd control, yet the event continued.

According to a concert insurance expert who asked to remain anonymous when speaking to RollingStone, the lack of crowd control early on suggests that the festival coordinators were ill-prepared for the number of people who showed up for the event. Once the crowd started making its way in, security was quickly overwhelmed.

NRG park might also share the blame for crowd control challenges. Just weeks before, on the 24th of October, fans at a Playboi Carti concert knocked over metal detectors and moved metal barriers before the show began. During that event, organizers chose to cancel rather than risk potential tragedy.

Concert safety expert Paul Wertheimer also feels that there might have been early signs that crowd control challenges were coming. As he points out, many of the concert-goers had been cooped up for a long time and were eager to get back to enjoying themselves. As a result, they may have been more energetic than usual, and therefore more likely to cause serious damage.

Organizers Deliberately Let the Show Go On

For close to 40 minutes after police and firefighters had arrived at Astroworld, Travis Scott continued to perform. He did end the event around 15 to 20 minutes earlier than originally planned, noting, "Any time I could make out anything that's going on, I just stopped the show and helped them get the help they need.” He went on to say that he "could just never imagine the severity of the situation."

Nevertheless, Scott did not stop the concert when the crowd became dangerous. Event organizers chose to keep the show moving despite the number of people passing out and suffering injuries. Footage from the concert shows fans chanting, "Stop the show!" in an effort to bring the situation back under control.

Despite their awareness of the situation and the danger to concert-goers, producers and organizers allowed the show to continue. They neither took action to end the concert nor took any steps to protect concert-goers from getting trampled during the surge.

Astroworld Medics Were Overwhelmed and Ill-Equipped

During and after the surge, more than 300 people required medical treatment. Medics note that at least 11 people were in cardiac arrest. While there was a field hospital on the scene and festival organizers could not have prepared for the sheer volume of injured individuals at the concert, they should have had better medical resources on hand.

According to Madeline Eskins, a concert-goer and ICU nurse in Humble, Texas, there were several problems with the medical equipment provided at the event. There were no Ambu bags --used to help with CPR -- and no defibrillators. Eskins fell unconscious during the crowd surge and ultimately ended up trying to assist medical crews.

Furthermore, medical staff lacked the training needed to handle the situation. The medics did not have adequate experience with CPR, had no idea how to check a pulse, and struggled to keep up with the sheer volume of people who needed medical attention at the event.

Other Artists Have Done a Better Job of Handling Medical Emergencies

During festivals and concerts in the past, other artists have taken the time to act on behalf of concert-goers who needed medical attention or assistance. In September 2021, Billie Eilish interrupted her Gov Ball performance to call security's attention to a problem in the crowd. In 2017, Adele stopped a concert in Australia to ask audience members to let paramedics through when a fan in the front row of the show went into cardiac arrest. Harry Styles stopped a 2017 performance when he noticed a girl having a panic attack in the crowd at a packed London concert. A clip has also emerged of a Linkin Park concert where the band noticed fans in trouble in the mosh pit and stopped the concert. They did not resume playing until they were sure that the fans got the help they needed, got back on their feet, and were safe.

What should Illinois residents do after suffering injuries or the death of a loved one while attending Astroworld in Houston?

Many of the concert-goers who were harmed by the tragic events of the Astroworld festival may now have grounds for a personal injury claim against the concert’s organizers and performers. If you attended the festival and experienced any of the following, you may be entitled to compensation:

  • Physical injury
  • Death of a loved one
  • PTSD or other psychological issues that may develop over time

A personal injury lawyer can help you learn more about your right to justice, including how you can pursue compensation for these disastrous events. At Levin & Perconti, we have helped many people who suffered injuries or damage due to the negligence of others to seek the compensation they deserved. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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