Family and friends gathered on Sunday to mourn the first of eight music fans who died in a wave of crowds at hip-hop star Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston on Friday night as a criminal investigation proceeded. on the circumstances of death.
At a funeral at Colleyville Masjid in the Dallas suburbs, Danish Baig, 27, an AT&T district manager born in Karachi, Pakistan, and who attended high school in Euless, Texas, was remembered by relatives as a joyful and devoted Muslim who enjoyed spending time with his family.
“She was an extraordinary soul,” Basil Mirza Baig, 25, said of her brother in a telephone interview after the burial. “His smile would light up the room. He had the biggest heart, the biggest heart in the room. “
Basil Baig, who attended the concert with Danish and his girlfriend, Olivia Swingle, said his brother died trying to protect Swingle as people in the crowd trampled and punched her in the face, arms and legs.
“He was there a second and then he left the next,” Baig said, noting that he was in front of his brother and Swingle and separated from the crowd. “My sister-in-law has fallen; he was trying to save my sister-in-law and then a second later they were gone. The crowd was just pushing, pushing, hitting, doing horrible things. “
“I couldn’t find them,” he said between sobs. “I looked everywhere. And I couldn’t find them. “
Baig said Swingle, her brother’s childhood boyfriend, was rushed to hospital on Friday night. On Sunday, he said, he attended the funeral with bruises on his face and body.
“He still has blood in his eyes,” he said.
Houston officials were investigating what led to the deadly turmoil that also resulted in injuries to concert-goers, including a 10-year-old boy who was hospitalized in critical condition.
The Houston coroner has not yet released the autopsy results on Sunday.
Houston police and firefighters did not comment on the causes of the deaths of the victims. During a press conference on Saturday, they said some concert-goers were trampled. At least one security guard was treated with the opiate overdose antidote Narcan for a needle stick in the neck, authorities said. Both murder and narcotics investigations are ongoing, police said.
At least one lawsuit was filed this weekend in Houston’s Harris County District Court by an injured concert goer, Manuel Souza, against Travis Scott, a concert company. living nation, co-organizer of ScoreMore and Scott’s Cactus Jack Records. The lawsuit claims that concert organizers “failed to plan and conduct the concert properly in a safe manner … ignored the extreme risks of harm to concert goers and, in some cases, actively encouraged and fomented dangerous behavior. “.
Baig, blaming Scott for encouraging chaos and not stopping the show, said his family also plans to sue.
“He didn’t stop the show for the death of people,” he said, noting that his brother died near the end of the event. “His hands are stained with blood. He is responsible for this. Everyone associated with Astroworld is responsible. “
As emergency vehicles rushed into the outdoor event in front of 50,000 people, Scott continued his performance. About 30 minutes into his set, streamed by Apple Music, the rapper noticed flashing blue and red lights and said, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Hey, hey, hey. “A minute later, the music resumed and the concert went on for about 40 minutes.
On Sunday, Scott, who previously tweeted that he was “devastated” by the tragedy, promised “full support” to the investigators. In an Instagram post, he said “whenever I could figure out something that was going on, I would stop the show and help (the fans) get the help they needed.” “He never imagined the gravity of the situation,” he added.
Among the victims was 14-year-old John Hilgert, a freshman at Houston’s Memorial High School, who released a statement confirming his death. On Sunday, fans tied green ribbons – the school’s color – around the perimeter fence in his honor.
“The boy made an impact on everyone who met him,” Justin Higgs, Hilgert’s former baseball manager, wrote on Facebook. Privileged to have had the opportunity to train him in those seasons of his life “.
Sixteen-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, a student from Heights High School, where she was part of the dance team, was also killed.
“She was an excellent student and loved to dance,” former teacher Linda Gordon said via Facebook Messenger. “He has a younger brother and sister and they were very close! It had so much potential. “
Gordon said other former students attended the concert and survived.
“I’m still in shock and cry every day,” she said. “… I pray they find a solution to prevent this from happening again.”
The dead also included Rodolfo Angel Peña, 23, an aspiring model and psychology student from Laredo, Texas; Axel Acosta, 21, a student at Western Washington University; Franco Patino, 21, student at the University of Dayton; Jacob Jurinek, 20, a student at Southern Illinois University; and Madison Dubiski, 23, of Houston.
“By all accounts, Axel was a young man with a bright future. We are sending our condolences to his family on this very sad day, ”said Melynda Huskey, vice president of enrollment and student services at Western Washington University.
Some of Dubiski’s relatives visited an impromptu memorial on Sunday outside the arena where the concert was held, but declined to comment. A portrait of Dubiski – long blond hair draped over a pink coat – was nestled between rows of bouquets and cards left by those who had passed all day to pay homage.
Among them was Maximiliano Alvarado, 20, of Houston, who was texting with a friend who was hospitalized after his ankle was injured at the concert.
“I’m just here to support,” Alvarado said.
Leya Contreras, 24, of San Antonio, came to pay her respects with her mother after attending the concert, where she said she escaped the throng of the crowd only to see a woman undergoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“It could be my daughter,” said Bonnie Contreras, 39, as they stood in front of photos of Dubiski, Patino and other victims among dozens of bunches of flowers along the arena’s fence.
Among the injured was ICU nurse Madeline Eskins, 23, who passed out as the crowd pressed even before Scott took the stage. She woke up in a less crowded VIP area where she said she saw security guards drop more people, some were bleeding from their noses or mouths, and then come back to snatch more people from the crowd.
Eskins, of Conroe, north of Houston, said a young man’s eyes were rolling in the back of his head.
“Has anyone checked their pulse?” recalled yelling at a security guard, who said no. So he checked and saw no response and ordered the guard to get urgent medical help.
Eskins said medical staff did not have the tools to save lives. When asked for an automated external defibrillator, an electronic pad used to treat sudden cardiac arrest in emergency situations, a doctor said they only had one and gestured to a woman whose shirt had been torn while other doctors they performed CPR.
“They were unprepared,” Eskins said. “They were more worried about their stupid Apple stream than people literally dying. Travis recognized that someone in the crowd needed an ambulance and was passed out. It kept going on. “
Times writer Suzy Esposito, in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.