Crowd Control Is a Major Issue in Astroworld Tragedy
Rumors and questions abound about the possibility that crowd control was a major factor in the tragedy that occurred at the 2021 Astroworld Festival in Houston. The popular concert turned into a mass casualty event around 9:15 that night during the performance by rapper Travis Scott when fans rushed the stage. Ten people died, including a child, 11 experienced cardiac arrests, and more than 300 received treatment for injuries when the crowd surged forward. This created a stampede, which crushed and injured music fans. Lawsuits are being filed by grieving families and the injured as they ask why precautions weren’t in place to prevent this tragedy.
Background About the Astroworld Festival
The first Astroworld Festival was held in 2018 and featured a variety of hip-hop artists, including Travis Scott. Attendance was up to 50,000 for the two-day event in 2019, with only one incident. This occurred when fans hurried to enter the festival and barricades that were placed in front at the entrance collapsed, injuring three people. The festival was canceled for 2020 due to the pandemic but sold out in about half an hour for 2021. Ticket sales for 2021 sold out, with 100,000 people expected to attend the two-day event despite much higher prices.
Concert Continues Despite Ambulances Among the Crowd
One question that people asked was why the concert continued even though there were many injured and dying people in the crowd and medical personnel in attendance. While Scott was on stage, he was wearing earplugs, so he could hear the music. He probably couldn’t hear what the audience was yelling. However, this isn’t the first time fans rushed the stage during one of his concerts.
In 2015, Scott was performing at Lollapalooza and reportedly encouraged his fans to rush the stage and did so again in 2017 while performing in Arkansas. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct after accepting a plea agreement and was fined. According to Yahoo!, Scott encouraged his fans to scale the security barricades, rush the stage and ignore security personnel. After the melee began, the concert continued for at least half an hour before it stopped.
Security Problems at the Concert
On the website for Astroworld, there was plenty of information on COVID vaccinations and safety precautions. In addition, attendees knew that everyone would be searched and a strict limit placed on what could be brought into the festival.
The Size of the Crowd and Staged Performances May Have Contributed to the Stampede
Although seating capacity is limited to 72,000 at NRG Park in Houston, where the festival was held, that only applies to the stadium, convention center, and arena. The Astroworld Festival was held in the parking lot, and the Fire Chief in Houston, Samuel Peña, said the event could have hosted a much higher number than the 50,000 tickets per night that were sold. City officials were responsible for holding the event to that low of a number. The fire chief said that normally the inspectors determine that entrances and exits are open and unimpeded. In large events such as this one, the performers generally use both stages to split the audience. When it came Scott’s time to perform, the other stage wasn’t being used.
Crowd Control Concerns at the Concert
Crowd control can only be as good as the security provided for the event. One Houston news station reported that the risk management head of security at the Astroworld Festival didn’t hold a license to work in that capacity in Texas. Although an investigation showed that some security personnel were licensed, the directors for exterior and interior security were not and nor was the security director. Neither were the top four in charge of security identified as police officers, although that is normally the case at such large events. Around 590 Houston police officers worked as security at the event.
Properly Securing a Public Event
Successfully putting together an event at a large public venue takes a great deal of work, ensuring both its success and the safety of those who attend it. Failure to do so can result in tragedies such as the one in Houston. A well-trained, adequate, and coordinated security team helps to control the crowd, as well as properly and securely placed barriers that can prevent the patrons from getting out of control.
Recovering Damages Following an Injury or Death at a Public Event
Those who are injured due to lax security or other negligence may place a claim for compensation. In addition, families may recover damages through filing a wrongful death lawsuit. An injury lawyer can help by determining what party/parties were at fault for the incident by conducting an investigation. Upon its conclusion, our injury attorneys take that evidence to prepare a strong case to support the client’s claim for injury compensation or the wrongful death case for the grieving family.
Types of Negligence at a Public Concert
In addition to a crush caused by the crowd, injuries or fatalities may occur due to:
- Improperly placed wires or dangerous barricades
- Fires caused by improperly handled or placed pyrotechnics
- Stage diving, which causes injury to those in the audience
- Mosh pit activities when people hurl themselves at others
- Crowd surfing where one concert-goer throws themself on top of others to be carried on top of the throng of people in the audience
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Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento
I am Ed Smith, and I’m a Sacramento personal injury attorney. If you were injured or lost a loved one at a public venue, you may wish to find out if you can file a claim for compensation or wrongful death. Contact us for our compassionate, free, and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We can also be contacted online.
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