Several festivalgoers described the “chaos” that unfolded at Friday night’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, where eight people died and dozens more were injured after the crowd rushed toward the stage.
The eight people who died include a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old, two 21-year-olds, two 23-year-olds, and a 27-year-old, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a Saturday press conference. One victim's age was not yet determined.
Officials said that as of Saturday, 13 people are still hospitalized, including five who are under the age of 18. A 10-year-old is in critical condition.
Madeline Eskins, a 23-year-old ICU nurse, has attended Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival each year so far, in 2018, 2019, and 2021. The crowd at Friday night’s show was “way worse” than those of years past, she told BuzzFeed News.
“I mean, the amount of pushing. People rush the stage whenever Travis comes on,” Eskins said. “They have mosh pits — I’m used to that. This was something completely different. I mean, nothing could’ve prepared me for this.”
Eskins, who attended the festival with her boyfriend, Sam, said she realized the situation was becoming dangerous just minutes before Scott’s set. While it had been cold outside at NRG Park, it became hot as everyone crowded together. Scott came onstage, and Eskins tried to tell her boyfriend that she needed to leave.
“I tried to look at my boyfriend; I couldn’t even turn my head to look at him,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I told him I needed to get out of there. He was like, ‘We can’t.’ And then I, honestly, I thought I was going to die.”
This was 22-year-old Tre Pixley’s first time attending Astroworld; he said he knew “it might get a little wild,” but added that the experience was “far more outrageous” than other live music events he’s been to.
As things grew more chaotic in the crowd, he told BuzzFeed News, he saw people jumping over the barriers to get the attention of festival staffers and the camera operator, but they were told to get back down.
Pixley said he fell to the ground and was unable to get up for two songs during Scott’s set.
“From the moment I hit the floor and had people below and above me, I really thought it was over,” he said. “If it weren’t for two complete strangers who risked their own lives to help me and the others on the floor, I could have been very seriously injured or worse.”
Billy Nasser, a 24-year-old DJ, told the Houston Chronicle he saw people in the front getting crushed.
“The crowd was moving so hard, people were falling over and then tripping over the people on the ground,” Nasser said. “I’ve been to so many festivals. I have never seen anything like this before.”
In an Instagram post, Eskins described being unable to breathe as people pushed up against one another, and passing out. She woke up in another area with a water bottle in her lap.
“They were providing water. People had water. People were passing out because they were being trampled, they were being suffocated,” she told BuzzFeed News. “Water would not have helped with that.”
Eskins wrote on Instagram that she saw people “getting carried out with eyes rolled back into their heads by security, bleeding from their nose and mouth.”
Security guards asked her for help, she said, and she began administering CPR on other people who had passed out. She described seeing a lack of equipment and only “four or five” medical staffers present, in addition to some people who did not have proper CPR training. “There were not enough medical staff to perform the amount of CPR we were doing,” she told BuzzFeed News, adding that there was no cell service in the area to call for help. “It was chaos.”
Eskins said that after she reconnected with Sam, they left. “If my boyfriend wouldn’t have caught me and basically crowd-surfed me out of there, I would’ve been trampled and I very easily could have died,” she said.
Festivalgoer Sarai Sierra described to CNN seeing teens around her being unable to breathe, and someone in front of her having a seizure.
“I truly thought that if I fell, it would’ve been the end of me,” Sierra told CNN. “It felt like we were drowning in a pool filled of just people.”
Officials said 50,000 people were at the concert when the incident happened. Medical staffers at the festival were “quickly overwhelmed,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said, and more than 300 people were treated at the field hospital.
Astroworld, an annual music festival produced by Scott, was sold out in under an hour this year when tickets were released in May. About 100,000 people were expected to attend the event, which the Houston rapper headlined, Variety reported. The festival was not held last year due to the pandemic.
In a statement addressing the tragedy early Saturday, organizers said they were supporting local officials in their investigation. The Saturday concert has been canceled.
“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” Scott wrote in a statement.