Victims identified in mass-casualty Astroworld festival tragedy

by | Nov 8, 2021 | Houston, News

Eight people died Friday night in NRG Park after a densely packed crowd surged the stage crushing concert goers at Houston Native Travis Scott’s famous Astroworld music festival. According to reports, the families have identified the victims killed in the event whose ages range from 14 to 27. Reports estimated over 50,000 people were in attendance at the event. 

The eight victims include 14-year-old John Hilgert, 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, 20-year-old Jacob Jurinke, 21-year-old Axel Acosta Avila,  21-year-old Franco Patino, 23-year-old Madison Dubiski, 23-year-old Rodolfo Pena, and 27-year-old Mirza Baig.

According to city officials, all eight victims were identified on Monday and the Houston Police and Fire Departments opened a criminal investigation in their homicide and narcotics division to understand exactly what happened. 

“Live Nation and Astroworld put together plans for the event,  a security event plan, a site plan that they were at the table with the city of Houston agencies and NRG Park, so perhaps the plans were inadequate, perhaps the plans were good, but they weren’t followed,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a press conference.  “I’m calling for an objective, independent, investigation as to what went on and how it could have been prevented and if this was a particular situation or if this was out of everybody’s hands.” 

In addition to the security investigation, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner also reported that the narcotics team became involved in the investigation after a security guard said he was pricked at the back of the neck before being revived with Narcan. 

“He was reaching over to restrain and grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck,” Finner said. 

12 lawsuits have already been filed against Scott and Live Nation, producers of the show. In one lawsuit, Austin native Manuel Souza said he suffered serious bodily injuries after being trampled by the surge and is seeking $1 million in damages. Scott released a video on Sunday saying he was devastated and has pledged to pay for all funeral expenses of the victims as well as give a full refund to all attendees. 

On the other hand, Chief Finner also released a statement saying that he met with Scott prior to the concert. 

So many questions are still unanswered in regards to the safety and security protocols in these types of events. Houston Police Chief Sam Pena said the event security and medical personnel were being conducted by third party organizers, but HFD had units around the park just in case the event escalated. 

“If we applied the fire code assembly occupancy formula they could have had over 200,000 people in this venue that’s just based on math,” Pena said. “These injuries did not occur as people tried to leave the venue. What we’re looking at is what led to the crowd surge.” 

Officials are also encouraging people to reach out to the police and fire department if they saw something on Friday that could help in the investigation.

Photo: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

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Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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