A 22-Year-Old Woman Is The Ninth Person To Die From Their Injuries At Astroworld Festival
Astroworld was the first music festival Bharti Shahani and her sister had ever attended. "I constantly wish that maybe it was all just a dream, maybe it was just a big nightmare," her sister said.
Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old woman who was seriously injured at Astroworld Festival and showed no brain activity shortly after arriving at the hospital, died Wednesday, her family said.
"She was the head of the family. She was a very nice girl, always calm, always listened. And she had a bright future," her father, Sunny Shahani, said at an emotional news conference on Thursday before making a plea for justice.
"Please, please make sure that she gets justice," he said. "I don't want somebody else's daughter to go like this."
Together with her sister, Namrata Shahani, and cousin Mohit Bellani, Bharti was one of roughly 50,000 people who were at the sold-out festival last Friday. It was the first music festival the sisters had ever been to, Namrata said.
Eight people died that night after what officials called a crowd surge. Many concertgoers recounted scenes of people being crushed and trampled, as well as a grossly inadequate number of security and medical staff to help. Videos from the night show people in the crowd screaming at concert staff and Travis Scott, who produced the festival and was performing at the time, to stop the show.
Bharti is the ninth person to die after attending Astroworld. A 9-year-old boy, Ezra Blount, is also currently in critical condition at a hospital after falling off his dad's shoulders at the concert and being trampled, his family said.
A student at Texas A&M University, Bharti changed her focus from chemical engineering to computer science after her first semester because she wanted to help her parents move their business online, her dad said. She was the "super glue" of the family who took care of her sisters and helped her father at his job, her cousin Bellani added.
Bharti had a special bond with Blue, the family's 2-year-old husky, and had recently gotten into badminton.
"She was just very full of life, she enjoyed the smallest things," her sister Namrata said. "She never let anything stress her out or break her. She was just always put together."
Bellani described what happened at Astroworld as a "catastrophe" and "pure brutality."
"If the producers, the venue, the organizers, and Live Nation had done their job, if they had hired properly vetted security and trained medics, if they hadn't grossly oversold the event and then let hundreds, maybe thousands of people sneak in, if they hadn't kept us in on all three sides of barricades," he said. "They suffocated us. They did this to Bharti."
Namrata said she has not been able to process what happened.
"Every day I wake up and I constantly wish that maybe it was all just a dream, maybe it was just a big nightmare," she said. "And it'll finally be over and I can finally see my sister again, finally hold her again, hug her again, tell her how much I love her."
The sisters were holding hands right before the chaos broke out. Namrata said her sister's last words to her were, "Are you OK?" The next time she saw Bharti, she was in the ER, Namrata said, "unconscious on a ventilator."
James Lassiter, an attorney representing the family, also confirmed that Bharti was the woman in a viral video who was dropped from a gurney as medical staff tried to carry her out of the crowd. He said Scott, Live Nation, or any of the organizations involved in Astroworld have not reached out to the family.
Scott's team has said that though the rapper has been "actively exploring routes of connection" with the victims' families, he "wants to remain respectful of each family's wishes on how they'd best like to be connected."
The Shahani family said Bharti's organs will be donated, and as of Thursday, she was still on the ventilator to help facilitate the donation process.