Barriers and crowd control at death center at Houston concert

HOUSTON (AP) – Investigators are expected to look at the design of security gates and the use of crowd control to determine what led to a crowd crush at a Houston music festival that left eight people dead and hundreds of injured.

Authorities planned to use videos, witness interviews and a review of concert procedures to figure out what was wrong on Friday night during a performance by rapper Travis Scott. Tragedy unfolded when crowds rushed onto the stage, hugging people so hard they couldn’t breathe.

Billy Nasser, 24, who had traveled from Indianapolis to attend the concert, said about 15 minutes after Scott started filming, things got “really crazy” and people started crashing into each other. others. He said he was “picking up people and trying to drag them outside”.

Nasser said he found a spectator on the ground.

“I picked it up. People were stepping on him. People were like stomping, and I lifted his head and looked at his eyes, and his eyes were just white, rolled up to the back of his head, “he said.

Over the weekend, a makeshift memorial of flowers, votive candles, condolence notes and t-shirts took shape outside NRG Park.

Michael Suarez, 26, visited the growing memorial after the concert.

“It’s very devastating. No one wants to see or hear people die at a festival, ”Suarez said. “We were here to have a good time – a good time – and it’s devastating to hear that someone has lost their life.”

The dead, according to friends and family members, included a 14-year-old high school student; a 16 year old girl who loved to dance; and a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Dayton. The youngest was 14, the oldest 27.

Houston officials did not immediately release the names of the victims or cause of death, but family and friends began naming loved ones and telling their stories on Sunday.

Thirteen people remained hospitalized on Sunday. Their terms were not disclosed. More than 300 people were treated in a field hospital during the concert.

City officials said they were in the early stages of investigating the causes of the pandemonium at the sold-out Astroworld festival, an event founded by Scott. About 50,000 people were there.

Authorities said that among other things they would examine how the area around the stage was designed.

Julio Patino, of Naperville, Illinois, who was in London on business when he got a call in the middle of the night informing him that his 21-year-old son Franco was dead, said he had a lot of questions about what had happened.

“These concerts need to be monitored,” Patino said. “If they don’t know how to do this, they should have canceled the concert on the spot, when they noticed it was crowded.” He added: “They shouldn’t wait to see people lying on the ground lifeless.”

Steven Adelman, vice president of the industry group Event Safety Alliance, which was formed after a scene collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 killed seven people, helped write the widely used industry guidelines today.

In addition to examining the security gates and determining whether they properly directed crowds or contributed to the crushing of spectators, Adelman said, authorities will examine if anything prompted the crowd besides Scott to take the stage. .

Adelman said another question was whether there was enough security there, noting that there was a nationwide shortage of people willing to take on part-time security assignments and to low salary.

“Security obviously couldn’t stop people. Optically, it’s really bad, ”he said. “But as to what he’s telling us, it’s too early to tell.”

Contemporary Services Corp., headquartered in Los Angeles, was responsible for the festival’s security personnel, according to Texas County records. Representatives for the company – which advertises online as “recognized around the world as the pioneer, expert and only employee-owned company in the field of crowd management” – did not immediately respond. e-mails and telephone messages requesting comments.

Houston Police and Fire officials said their investigation will include examining a video taken by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips of people at the show.

Officials also plan to review the event’s security plan and the various permits issued to organizers to see if they were properly followed. In addition, investigators planned to speak with representatives of Live Nation, Scott and spectators.

Texas City’s Izabella Ramirez was celebrating her 21st birthday and said that once Scott got on stage no one could move.

“Everyone was crashing and people were trying to move forward. You couldn’t even raise your arms, ”Ramirez said.

Ramirez said a security guard pulled her over the barricade, while her date Jason Rodriguez lifted her up.

“Everyone was screaming for different things. Either they were screaming for Travis or they were screaming for help, ”Rodriguez said.

In a video posted to social media, Scott could be seen stopping the gig at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Safety, someone is helping real quick.”

There is a long history of similar disasters at concerts, sporting events, and even religious events. In 1979, 11 people were killed as thousands of fans attempted to enter Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum to attend a Who concert. Other past crowd disasters include the deaths of 97 people at a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 in Sheffield, England, and numerous disasters related to the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Experts who have studied crowd influx deaths say they are often the result of too many people crammed into too small a space.

Also on Sunday, one of the first of many pending lawsuits was filed on behalf of a man injured in the crash of people in Houston State Court. Manuel Souza’s lawyers have sued Scott, Live Nation and others, saying they were responsible.

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated by what happened”. He is committed to working “with the Houston community to heal and support families in need.”


Associated Press editors Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville and Bob Christie in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

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