Officials: Astroworld victims died of compression asphyxiation

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FILE - Visitors cast shadows at a memorial to the victims of the Astroworld concert in Houston on November 7, 2021. The 10 people who lost their lives in a massive influx of crowds at the Astroworld music festival in Houston have died of from compression asphyxiation, officials said Thursday, December 16, 2021. (AP Photo / Robert Bumsted, File)

FILE – Visitors cast shadows at a memorial to the victims of the Astroworld concert in Houston on November 7, 2021. The 10 people who lost their lives in a massive influx of crowds at the Astroworld music festival in Houston have died of from compression asphyxiation, officials said Thursday, December 16, 2021. (AP Photo / Robert Bumsted, File)

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The 10 people killed at the Astroworld music festival in Houston all died of compression asphyxiation in a huge crowd surge in which attendees were so tight that many could not breathe or move their arms, officials said Thursday. .

What probably happened, according to a 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 the 10 victims, causing them to pass out in about a minute and die because critical organs, such as the heart and brain, have been depleted of oxygen.

Dr George W. Williams, an intensive care anesthesiologist at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, said the hundreds and perhaps thousands of pounds of pressure victims likely felt on their chests were “as if they were run over by a car”.

“Seconds really matter in allowing that person to recover and be saved from this terrible event… Organs like the brain and heart start to be injured and after three to four minutes this injury becomes as serious as you can.” “Don’t bring that person back,” said Williams, who also works at Harris Health LBJ, one of the health sciences center teaching hospitals.

Forensic scientists at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston had to wait several weeks after rap superstar Travis Scott’s November 5 concert for further test results before making final decisions on the cause and mode of death. The way the deaths were judged as an accident.

The 10 who died were among the 50,000 who attended the festival and were in the audience when Scott’s concert turned fatal.

The youngest victim was 9-year-old Ezra Blount. The other people who died were between 14 and 27 years old. Forensic scientists said the factors contributing to a man’s death were cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol, a form of alcohol.

Some 300 people were injured and treated at the festival site and 25 were taken to hospitals.

Williams said what happened at the Astroworld festival would not normally take place at a party or other event, as a very large crowd would be needed to create the conditions people would look like expelled from their lungs because of the force exerted on them. chest, pass out and die.

“It’s a very scary thing to happen,” said Williams.

More than 300 lawsuits were filed for injuries and deaths at the concert.

Alex Hilliard, a lawyer representing Ezra Blount’s family, said the news of the victims’ deaths was “devastating” to their families.

“There won’t be a single family member who isn’t completely broken up again after learning this information,” Hilliard said.

James Lassiter, a lawyer representing the family of Bharti Shahani, who died several days after the concert, said the medical examiner’s findings confirmed his family’s worst fears.

“The last moments of their beloved daughter’s life were surely marked by suffering, panic and terror. It’s a horrible, inescapable image that no parent should have to endure, ”Lassiter said.

Scott and the event organizers are the subject of a criminal investigation by Houston Police. No one has been charged. No timetable has been set for the end of the investigation.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Houston Police said Thursday its investigators are still conducting interviews and reviewing video footage and other evidence and will provide updates in the coming weeks on the progress of their investigation.

Scott’s lawyer contacted the families of the 10 who died, offering to pay the funeral costs of their loved ones. Several families declined the offer.

The top elected official in the county which includes Houston, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, had proposed a third-party investigation into the planning and execution of the Scott-founded festival.

The Harris County Administrator will instead work with other city and county entities to review safety, fire and other safety plans in the county-owned NRG Park, where the festival took place. place.

Other members of the Harris County governing body, known as the Commissioners’ Tribunal, feared that Hidalgo’s investigation would entail legal responsibilities for the county.

Crowd safety experts say an investigation by neutral outsiders could help avoid potential conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

A 56 page event operations plan for the Astroworld festival with detailed protocols for dangerous scenarios including gunner, bomb or terrorist threats and extreme weather conditions. But it didn’t include information on what to do in case of an influx of crowds.

A motion is pending before the Texas Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which is overseen by the Texas Supreme Court, on whether to consolidate all lawsuits and have them overseen by a judge. Earlier this month, a Harris County Judicial Council granted a different request that all pre-trial issues in different lawsuits be dealt with by a single judge. But the state’s judicial panel suspended the litigation, overturning the order of the local council of judges.

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Find the AP coverage of the Astroworld festival: https://apnews.com/hub/astroworld-festival-deaths

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70


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