Survivors Mourn Astroworld Disaster: ‘It Was Like Hell in There’

2021-11-08T17:26:19+00:00November 8th, 2021|

HOUSTON — Angry and traumatized mourners of the eight music fans who died and 300 who were injured Friday night at Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival in Houston fanned out to memorials and vigils throughout the city this weekend. “It really wasn’t a concert. It was like hell in there,” said Angel Rodriguez, an 18-year-old high school student who gathered Sunday afternoon (Nov. 7) with five friends in front of a makeshift shrine outside the festival site NRG Park. “We were just there to have fun. We didn’t know it was going to be a mass tragedy.”

Rodriguez and his friends were in the middle of the deadly crush when fans rushed the stage. One, Natalia Tavera, a 16-year-old high school student, fainted twice and wound up lying in a mass of bodies. “I was screaming for help, and no one helped,” she said. “It was really tight. At the bottom, you could see dead people. I had to pull on people’s legs to get out.”

The shrine of votive candles, flowers, photos and handwritten cards stretched along Westridge Street, about 100 yards away from the site of the disaster. As videos posted on social media showed, Scott continued to perform while fans were screaming at him to stop the show. Scott told fans on social media Saturday that he was “absolutely devastated by what took place.”

Rodriguez, Tavera and their friends criticized festival security staff, and Scott, for not recognizing the danger signs and allowing the show to go on. “It was like they didn’t care,” Rodriguez said. Another friend added: “They did not have enough people there.”

The eight who died in the crush ranged in ages from 14 to 27, including a 21-year-old University of Dayton engineering student and a 14-year-old high school student. Houston officials did not release their names, but friends and family paid tribute on social media and began to hold memorials on Sunday afternoon.

The concert was so chaotic that many concertgoers separated from their groups. Immediately afterwards, desperate music fans flooded a police command center at the Wyndham Hotel, a few blocks from the concert, making 1,000 requests to find missing people. By Sunday afternoon, after an intense day of calls and family visits, police cut that list down to 27 — and Commander Dan Harris expressed confidence that many of those had simply lost their phones.

Scott tweeted he would work “with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”

Sunday night, Charles Gamez, who had attended the concert and witnessed the carnage from the back, couldn’t figure out what to do with his grief, so he attended church — twice. “For more peace,” he said, wearing an Astroworld T-shirt with “Psalm 91” printed on the back, about God’s protection from disaster. “[I] can’t even listen to music right now,” added the 30-year-old, who works in the Harris County deputy clerk’s office. “It’s definitely traumatizing.”

Gamez was uninjured, but he could feel the danger just by watching the crowd from a distance. “Even though you’re outside, it feels like you’re inside,” he said. “There’s no oxygen.”

At the church vigil, Rev. Paul Felix told a service of 30 people the tragedy “wakes us up to the vulnerability of the human condition” and lamented that “things can so quickly turn to disaster.”

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