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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Families and friends mourn the victims of the crowds at the Astroworld Festival

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Family and friends gathered Sunday to mourn the first of eight music fans who were killed in a crowd surge at hip-hop star Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston on Friday night as an investigation unfolded. criminal about the circumstances of the deaths.

At a funeral at Colleyville Masjid in suburban Dallas, Danish Baig, 27, an AT&T district manager who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and attended high school in Euless, Texas, was remembered by family members as a Muslim. Devoted and cheerful who loved to spend time with family.

“He was an amazing soul,” Basil Mirza Baig, 25, said of his 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 fiancée, Olivia Swingle, said his brother was killed trying to protect Swingle when people in the crowd stomped on her and hit her in the face, arms and legs.

A memorial in Houston for the victims of Astroworld.

A memorial in Houston for the victims of Astroworld.

(Robert Bumsted / Associated Press)

“He was there one second and then he went the next,” Baig said, noting that he was in front of his brother and Swingle and separated from the crowd. “My sister-in-law fell; I was trying to save my sister in law and then the next second they were gone. The crowd just pushed, shoved, hit, did horrible things. “

“I couldn’t find them,” she said between sobs. “I looked everywhere. And I couldn’t find them. “

Baig said Swingle, his brother’s childhood sweetheart, was rushed to a hospital Friday night. On Sunday, she said, she attended the funeral with bruises on her face and body.

“She still has blood in her eyes,” he said.

Houston officials were investigating what led to the deadly rampage that also resulted in injuries to concert goers, including a 10-year-old boy who was hospitalized in critical condition.

The Houston coroner had not yet released the autopsy results Sunday night.

Houston police and fire officials have not commented on the causes of death for the victims. At a press conference on Saturday, they said some concert goers were trampled. At least one security guard was treated with the Narcan antidote for opioid overdose for a needle stick to the neck, authorities said. Homicide and narcotics investigations are underway, police said.

At least one lawsuit was filed this weekend in Houston’s Harris County District Court by an injured assistant, Manuel Souza, against Scott, a concert promoter. Living nation, co-organizer ScoreMore and Scott’s Cactus Jack Records. The lawsuit alleges that the concert organizers “failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner … they ignored the extreme risks of harm to concert-goers and, in some cases, actively encouraged and encouraged dangerous behavior.”

Baig, blaming Scott for encouraging chaos and not stopping the show, said his family also plans to file a lawsuit.

“He didn’t stop the show because of the people who were dying,” he said, noting that his brother died towards the end of the event. “Her hands are stained with blood. He is responsible for this. Everyone associated with Astroworld is responsible. “

When emergency vehicles rushed through the open-air event in front of 50,000 people, Scott continued his performance. About 30 minutes into his set, which Apple Music broadcast live, the rapper noticed flashing blue and red lights and said, “There’s an ambulance in the crowd. Wait, wait, wait. ”A minute later, the music played again and the concert continued for about 40 more minutes.

On Sunday, Scott, who previously tweeted that he was “devastated” by the tragedy, promised “full support” to investigators. In an Instagram post, he said that “whenever I could make out something from what was happening, I would stop the show and help (fans) get the help they need.” He “could never imagine the seriousness of the situation,” he added.

Those who died included 14-year-old John Hilgert, a freshman at Houston Memorial High School, who released a statement confirming his death. On Sunday, supporters tied green ribbons, the color of the school, around the perimeter fence in his honor.

“The boy shocked everyone who knew him,” Justin Higgs, Hilgert’s former baseball coach, wrote on facebook. “It is a privilege to have had the opportunity to coach him during those seasons of his life.”

Brianna Rodriguez, 16, a junior at Heights High School, where she was on the dance team, also died.

“She was an excellent student and she loved to dance,” said former teacher Linda Gordon via Facebook Messenger. “He has a younger brother and sister and they were very close! It had a lot of potential. “

Gordon said other alumni attended the concert and survived.

“I’m still in shock and cry every day,” he said. “… I pray that they find a solution to prevent this from happening again.”

Also among the dead were 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, a 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 vibrant future. We send our condolences to his family on this sad day, ”said Melynda Huskey, vice president of enrollment and student services at Western Washington University.

Letters, candles and flowers left for the victims of Astroworld.

Letters, candles and flowers left for the victims of Astroworld.

(Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images)

Some of Dubiski’s relatives visited a makeshift memorial Sunday outside the arena where the concert was held, but declined to comment. A portrait of Dubiski – long blonde hair over a pink coat – was placed between rows of bouquets of flowers and notes left by those who passed all day to pay their respects.

Among them was Maximiliano Alvarado, 20, of Houston, who was texting with a hospitalized friend after he injured his ankle at the concert.

“I’m just here to support,” Alvarado said.

Leya Contreras, 24, of San Antonio, came to pay her respects to her mother after attending the concert, where she said she escaped the crush of the crowd only to see a woman being administered CPR.

“It could have been my daughter,” said Bonnie Contreras, 39, as they looked at photos of Dubiski, Patiño and other victims amid dozens of bouquets of flowers that littered the sand fence.

Among the injured was 23-year-old ICU nurse Madeline Eskins, who fainted as the crowd squeezed in before Scott even took the stage. He woke up in a less crowded VIP area where he said he witnessed security guards dropping off more people, some bleeding from their noses or mouths, then returning to pull more people out of the crowd.

Eskins, of Conroe, north of Houston, said a young man’s eyes had rolled his eyes.

“Has anyone taken the pulse?” He recalled yelling at a security guard, who said no. Then he checked it and saw no response, and instructed the guard to seek urgent medical assistance.

Eskins said medical personnel did not have the tools they needed to save lives. When he 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 was ripped while other doctors were giving her CPR.

“They weren’t prepared,” Eskins said. “They were more concerned about their stupid Apple broadcast than about people literally dying. Travis recognized that someone in the crowd needed an ambulance and passed out. He just kept going. “

Times writer Suzy Exposito in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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