HOUSTON, Texas A 10 year old boy is among 10 people died Friday night and hundreds of others were injured during the opening night of a popular weekend music festival at NRG Park, authorities said.
He has been named online as Thomas Drought but police have not confirmed this offcially.
It happened at the third-annual Astroworld Festival, a sold-out concert event featuring multiple acts
The worst of the incident began around 9:15 p.m. when the crowd of approximately 50,000 concert-goers began to move toward the front of the stage, according to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña.
“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and people began to panic,” Peña said.
The view from SkyEye overhead Friday night showed the heavy police and fire department activity in the area of the event as organizers ended it early.
The organizers, rapper Travis Scott and LiveNation, stopped the show when it was apparent that multiple people were hurt, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
While the most deadly moments happened after 9:30 p.m., Peña said more than 300 patients total had been treated at a field hospital since the event began, including people who were hurt during the worst moments.
While names and ages of the casualties weren’t known, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said one of the victims was 10-years-old.
Houston Fire Department and Harris County medics transported 23 people to hospitals, 17 of those patients were taken away during the worst of the ordeal, according to Peña, who also said CPR had to be performed on 11 of the victims.
HFD had 55 units in-service for the festival, Peña said.
Festival founder Travis Scott, a rapper and Missouri City native, was joined on stage by Drake in a surprise appearance as the crowd surged
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was on-duty at the festival along with 367 police officers and 241 security officers. He gave his first-hand account during an early morning press conference.
“Once we started having the mass casualty incident, they were starting CPR on several people, and it happened all at once,” Satterwhite said. “It seemed like it happened over the course of just a few minutes.
Suddenly, we had several people down on the ground experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode.”
Medical transports were already at the park for the multi-day festival, but staff was quickly overwhelmed with injured people, authorities said.
Investigators were dispatched to hospitals Saturday morning in an attempt to identify the victims. The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine how the eight people died.
The rest of the weekend’s planned performances were canceled, and the area is now a crime scene as investigators work to find out what exactly happened.
“At some point, the show was stopped when the crowd was surging,” Finner said as he noted the event’s promoters were cooperating with investigators.
It wasn’t yet clear what caused the deaths or injuries. Finner early Saturday shot down any early speculation about the multiple fatalities.
“There are a lot of rumors going around,” Finner said. “We have hurting families out here.”
Organizers with Astroworld Festival released the following statement early Saturday morning:
“Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight – especially those we lost and their loved ones. We are focused on supporting local officials however we can.
With that in mind the festival will no longer be held on Saturday.
As authorities mentioned in their press conference earlier, they are looking into the series of cardiac arrests that took place.
If you have any relevant information on this, please reach out to Houston Police.
Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support.”
A reunification center was set up at 8686 Kirby Drive near the South Loop at the Wyndham Houston hotel for family members to connect with their loved ones who may have attended the festival.
The reunion location is being staffed by personnel from Houston Police, the Houston Fire Department and counselors, authorities said.
City leaders urged family members to visit the location if they haven’t been in touch with their loved ones who attended the concert.
“If you’re a relative, (and your) family member was at this event and you have not spoken to this individual, we have units available to assist,” Finner said.
Residents from outside the Houston-area who haven’t heard loved ones who attended the festival can call 832-393-2991 or 832-393-2990.
While it was too early to know if the deaths or injuries were the result of criminal activity, Finner said his department investigating any possibilities.
“Until we determine what happened, what caused the surge, we don’t know,” Finner said. “We will find out.
Is there anything criminal? We don’t know.”
The deadly incident came hours after a massive crowd stormed the perimeter of NRG Park, creating a chaotic situation for security personnel and event staff. Finner said the two events were not related.
Multiple fans were trampled Friday afternoon as hundreds rushed the event’s perimeter, knocking down metal detectors and a security screening area. It still wasn’t clear Saturday if anyone suffered major injuries during the earlier incident.
The event’s 100,000 tickets sold out within an hour of going on sale back in May.
Travis Scott, the popular rapper and organizer, launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018. Like most other large events, it was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.