Screaming. Suffocating. Panicking. Unconscious.
Attendees at a highly anticipated Houston music festival concert on Friday night say they were shocked to see how the event turned into pandemonium that left at least eight people dead.
Rapper Travis Scott was the sold-out headliner of the Astroworld Festival at NRG Park, which was attended by around 50,000 people.
Here, some of them describe the chaos they are still trying to understand.
Ariel Little of New York was in the crowd at a prime vantage point with her husband for only a brief minute before she started wrestling.
It was in an attempt to escape the increasingly crowded place that the couple realized how dangerous it was becoming.
Little’s voice shook with emotion as she described how small she felt out of breath as she was being beaten by the crowd.
“My chest suffers so much from people pushing and squeezing – literally squeezing – my chest and my lungs. And all I can remember is just screaming for him. `I have to get out! I have to go out! ‘And people weren’t moving, “Little said.” They thought it was a joke, but it was like people literally died. “
Her husband, Shawn, quickly scanned the scene to find a way out.
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“There were a lot of people in my section who were kind of like screaming and having panic attacks just because it almost felt like you were under an elevator and the elevator was going down on you and there was nothing you could do about it, “Shawn Little said. “No one in my section at the time was moving because I think everyone was just shocked at how crazy and panicked they were. There was a lot of fear in the eyes of the people. “
Madeline Eskins is an ICU nurse who claimed she was one of the festival attendees who passed out as the mass of people approached the stage. She was taken to a slightly less crowded area for medical treatment, where she woke up.
Eskins, 23, of Houston, said he saw someone nearby who needed medical assistance and told them he was a nurse. When a security guard overheard her, he asked her if she could start helping others, Eskins said.
“There were three people on the ground undergoing CPR and the most disorganized chaos I have ever seen in my life,” Eskins said.
Eskins said he tried to guide medical staff and volunteers on how to use a defibrillator, and he also helped check pulses and perform CPR compressions on several people.
“When the lead actor came out _ like Travis _ people were, like, compressed because they just wanted to see him,” Sal Salinas said. “It was like I was suffocated in there. If you weren’t on the side or anything, you were suffocating. “
Niaara Goods, 28, of New York City, said the crowd increased as the timer clicked towards the start of the performance.
“As soon as he jumped on stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire. Suddenly, your ribs are squeezed. You have someone’s arm in your neck. You’re trying to breathe but you can’t, ”said Goods, who traveled to Texas to see friends and celebrate a birthday.
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She said she and her friends, one of whom was punched in the head and jaw, were quickly separated from each other, but all fled. Goods said she was so desperate to get out that she bit a man on the shoulder to make him move.
“Some people are laughing at us _ the ones who are screaming to get out. Because they thought it was funny. They didn’t realize it was terror, “he said.
Later, after she got to safety, she saw the wounded rushing to safety on stretchers or wheelchairs.
“It was literally the scariest night of my life. I literally thought I was going to die trying to get out. That’s not what you pay for,” he said.
Gary Gaston, 52, of Houston, said he went to the concert with his ex-wife, their 14-year-old son and the teenager’s friend.
They felt so threatened after just a few of Scott’s songs that they decided to leave and meet outside the medical tent. When Gaston and his ex-wife arrived shortly after 10pm, he said he saw medical staff begin carrying at least eight people into the tent on stretchers, most of whom seemed unresponsive.
“It was surreal because you see these people being pulled out on these stretchers and people running into the medical tent, but the music is still going on,” Gaston said. “The people in the arena didn’t know about it.”
Gavyn Flores said people kept trying to escape into spaces where there was no one to spare, while others tried to make their way to the barricades to jump to safety.
“They couldn’t get there because there were people blocking them, so those people like they have to deal with it simply because they couldn’t get out of the show,” Flores said. “They were like singing ‘Stop the show!’ and there was a guy behind doing resuscitation. So many people were doing CPR, like it was absurd. “
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Julian Ponce said there were signs of injuries but didn’t realize there were deaths until he got home.
“It was kind of mind blowing, as we kept hearing from people,” he stops the show. Stop the show, ‘but we didn’t know what was going on. We heard someone was bleeding. We heard a lot of things and we weren’t too sure, “Ponce said.” I don’t even know how to feel. It’s just breathtaking. “
Associated Press reporter Acacia Coronado contributed from Austin, Texas.
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