Lucas Nakkarati traveled far to attend the Astroworld festival in Houston.
But he left the event as Friday night headliner Travis Scott performed the second song of his set. A man from Arcadia emerged from the NRG park shirtless, shoesless, bruised and shocked.
“Wow, looks like you had a good time,” the guard told him as he passed.
Nakkarati, 26, stopped and shook his head. He said he just saw at least one person die at the concert venue.
He was with about 100 people who gathered at a location about 50 feet from the main stage of the festival at 8:15 pm Friday, 45 minutes before Scott’s scheduled performance. The audience stood shoulder to shoulder after 30 minutes and continued to get tighter.
“I probably couldn’t have left here if I really wanted to,” he recalled, thinking as more and more people joined the crowd. “It was: choose a position and you are at a dead end. You wouldn’t scratch your face if you wanted to. “
Shortly after Scott began performing his first song of the evening, “Escape Plan,” Nakkarati saw a short blonde woman and her boyfriend trying to get out of the crowd and screaming for help. He was nearly knocked off his feet when he grabbed her arm. Desperate, she grabbed the waistband of his shorts as they made their way to the back of the room.
“We had about five feet, and that’s when the wave hit us so hard from behind, it was just the wave of people just pushing because everyone was leaving the Sizza concert and running towards the main stage,” Nakkarati said.
At that moment, Nakkarati nearly lost his balance. He felt one of his legs fall on someone’s chest and felt the other fall on someone’s arm or leg as he stepped back to keep from falling.
“I just felt like something was breaking,” he said.
Fans continued to flock across the floor as Nakkarati and the people following him tried to free themselves. It took them about 10 minutes to walk 70 feet to the edge of the crowd. They could barely catch their breath when “the other girl started screaming at the top of her lungs,” Nakkarati said.
This second woman fainted in his arms as he picked her up and carried her away. He did not feel her pulse until he started giving her artificial respiration.
After more than a minute of chest compression, her eyes opened. When he tried to call a guard for help, Nakkarati noticed a young man “lifeless on the floor, stepped on,” he said.
The man was covered in dirt and bruises, and his eyes rolled back to the back of his head as Nakkarati dragged him away. Viewers, unaware of the crisis, continued to step on it while the veteran US Marine tried to revive it.
If I don’t get out of here, they’ll trample me too, thought Nakkarati, kneeling in front of the motionless man and fighting the constant wave of people. He was afraid that the person he was trying to help was already dead, and decided that he needed to run.
I’m 99.99% sure that at least one person actually died in #AstroWorld they were all by our side too. It was crazy. People fainted, trampled, etc. DO NOT enter the headliner stage. The rest of the day was crazy though ?
– Lucas (@brownsugarlucas) November 6, 2021
While all this was happening, Scott continued to perform. One viewer said the show lasted at least 20 minutes before the paramedics were able to reach the crushed and suffocated audience members, CNN reported. A total of eight people died, at least 25 were hospitalized.
In hindsight, Nakkarati doesn’t blame the guards for not taking his first-hand accounts seriously. According to Nakkarati, the dense crowd of jumping fans would look like any other show titled Scott for someone on the periphery of the audience. And he believes that there was little that one person could do to get to those who were trampled below.
“Batman himself could have been there and he couldn’t do anything,” Nakkarati said.
Houston police have launched an investigation to determine if there could be any criminal charges related to the chaos. Meanwhile, concertgoers began filing lawsuits against Scott and Live Nation, the company that promoted the Astroworld Festival.