HUSTON (AP) – 10 people killed at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, all died of compression asphyxiation during a massive surge in crowds when members were packed so tightly many could not breathe or move their arms, officials announced Thursday.
What probably happened, according to the medical expert, was that the pressure from the large crowd at the event was so great that it quickly squeezed all the air out of the lungs of 10 victims, causing them to pass out within a minute or so and die because of the critical organs such as the heart and brain were depleted of oxygen.
Dr. George Williams, an intensive care unit anesthesiologist at the University of Texas Medical Science Center at Houston, said the hundreds and possibly thousands of pounds of pressure the victims likely felt on their chest were “like being crushed by a machine “.
READ MORE: Mortality at Astroworld requires an independent review
“Seconds really do matter to give this person a chance to recover and escape this terrible event … Organs such as the brain and heart start to get injured, and after three to four minutes the injury becomes so severe that you cannot deliver this the person is back, ”said Williams, who also works at Harris Health LBJ, one of the health science center’s teaching hospitals.
Forensic scientists at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Medicine in Houston had to wait several weeks after rap superstar Travis Scott’s November 5 concert to get additional test results before finally determining the cause and nature of the deaths. The cause of death was recognized as an accident.
The 10 deaths were among 50,000 people who attended the festival and were in the audience when Scott’s concert proved fatal.
The youngest victim was 9-year-old Ezra Blount. The other deaths ranged in age from 14 to 27. Forensic experts said factors contributing to the death of one person were cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol, a form of alcohol.
About 300 people were injured and treated at the festival site, and 25 people were taken to hospitals.
Williams said that what happened at Astroworld usually doesn’t happen at, say, a party or other event, as it will take a very large crowd to create an environment in which people will be squeezed out of their lungs by the force on their bodies. chest, you lose consciousness and die.
“It can be very scary,” Williams said.
More than 300 lawsuits have been filed for injuries and deaths at the concert.
Alex Hilliard, an attorney representing Ezra Blount’s family, said the news of how the victims died was “devastating” for their families.
“There will not be a single family member who is not completely torn apart once they learn this information,” Hilliard said.
James Lassiter, an attorney representing Bharti Shahani’s family, who died a few days after the concert, said the forensic findings confirmed her family’s worst fears.
“The last moments of their beloved daughter’s life were undoubtedly marked by suffering, panic and horror. This is a terrible, inevitable image that no parent should put up with, ”Lassiter said.
Scott and the organizers of the event are at the center of the Houston Police Department’s criminal investigation. Nobody was charged. No timetable has been set for the completion of the investigation.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Houston police said Thursday that its investigators are still conducting interrogations and reviewing videos and other evidence and will provide updates on the progress of the investigation in the coming weeks.
Scott’s lawyer appealed to the families of 10 victims and offered to pay for the funeral of their loved ones. Several families turned down this offer.
The senior district official, which includes Houston, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, has proposed an independent review of the planning and operation of Scott’s festival.
Instead, the Harris County Administrator will work with other city and county organizations to review safety plans, firefighting, and other safety measures for the NRG County Park where the festival was held.
Other members of Harris County’s governing body, known as the Commissioner’s Court, were concerned that the Hidalgo investigation could lead to legal responsibility for the county.
Crowd safety experts say investigating by neutral outsiders can help avoid potential conflicts of interest and increase transparency.
Astroworld’s 56-page action plan detailed protocols for hazardous scenarios including shooter, bomb or terrorist threats, and harsh weather. But there was no information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.
The Texas Multidistrict Judicial Panel, which is overseen by the Texas Supreme Court, is reviewing a motion to decide whether all lawsuits should be consolidated and placed under the supervision of a single judge. The Harris County College of Judges granted another request earlier this month for a single judge to decide all pre-trial issues in various claims. But the state judiciary has suspended the case, overturning the ruling of the local panel of judges.