Astroworld: A freak accident or a preventable tragedy?

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On Nov. 5, 2021, grammy-nominated rapper Travis Scott held his annual Astroworld Festival in his hometown, Houston. Over 50,000 people gathered at NRG Park to see Scott perform. What was supposed to be a celebration of music and fun turned into one of the deadliest crowd crushes in U.S. history. 

Ten people died—eight on the night of the concert and two who died days after due to injuries sustained on Nov. 5. Among the victims, nine-year-old Ezra Blount was the youngest to have passed away. Over 25 people were hospitalized and about 300 people were treated for injuries.

The events and deaths that occurred that night are still under investigation, but as time progressed, more information surfaced about what truly happened. Since news broke of the tragedy, there has been debate over the culpability of events. Some believe that what occurred was an accident and out of Scott’s control, while others believe Scott and his team are fully responsible for the victims’ death and injuries. 

In fact, according to NBC News reporters Elisha Fieldstadt and Diana Dasrath, “A lawsuit seeking more than $750 million was filed Tuesday on behalf of at least 125 victims.” Since then, there have been several other lawsuits filed against Scott, Live Nation, Drake and other event coordinators. 

While it’s still not 100 percent clear what happened that night, it becomes apparent that what occurred on Nov. 5 was not only preventable, but Scott’s actions during his performance did aid to the injury of hundreds of people.

23-year-old ICU nurse, Madline Eskins, attended the festival and was brought to an area where injured people were being treated. Eskins stated hat some of the medical workers did not appear to know how to check a pulse or properly conduct chest compressions, according to a recent article published by the NYTimes. 

Not only was there an absence of medical workers, but those who were there clearly lacked the proper training, as many were seen scrambling to help perform CPR. A few hours before the festival started, there were multiple videos trending on social media that showed hundreds of people trampling over fences to enter the concert, and you can see security personnel watching with faces of surrender. 

Concert Safety Consultant Paul Wertheimer stated that Astroworld “was preventable, the crowd was allowed to get too dense and was not managed properly.” To make matters worse, the entertainment company that was in charge of coordinating the events, Live Nation, has previously been linked to at least 200 deaths and 750 injuries since 2006, and have been cited for at least ten OSHA violations. 

After the concert, dozens of videos circulated the social media app TikTok, showcasing Scott acknowledging that audience members had passed out. There was even an instance where Scott took the time to announce the presence of an ambulance truck in the crowd, yet he continued to perform. Scott clearly saw something was out of the ordinary, but refused to stop the concert. 

In the future, it is imperative that artists be vigilant of the chaos occurring within their audiences. Event coordinators and artists have a duty and responsibility to their concert-goers. During festivals, security should be heavily placed around crowds, not just entrances and exits. 

With an audience of tens of thousands of people, there should have been easy access to leave the crowd if an audience member wished it. Hopefully, other artists and event coordinators will impose stricter rules and regulations for crowd safety to ensure a tragedy like this one never occurs again.

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