In the wake of the Astroworld Festival tragedy, everyone is struggling to figure out how this could have happened — and who is to blame?
How much responsibility does Travis Scott bear as both the performer and founder of the festival? Was this crowd surge an unforeseeable incident? Or something a good concert venue should have been prepared to deal with?
Related: Astroworld Tragedy: Everything We Know So Far
We’re learning more and more each day about what was going on behind the scenes, and it’s pretty consistently looking worse and worse for those at the top. Many employees are speaking out about the lack of preparation and training they received ahead of the large event, including novice security guards and understaffed medics! Their claims are truly so disheartening… Get the latest (below):
We’ve heard the security team was “woefully unprepared” for what was to come. Security guard Darius Williams previously claimed he left before the show after realizing they were “understaffed and not equipped to handle the massive crowds.”
Now we’re hearing from someone with less experience. A lot less.
Jackson Bush, who was hired as a security guard at Travis Scott’s event, told Brian Entin of NewsNation that he was hired via text message and wasn’t even required to show an ID or prove qualifications for the job. All he had to do was show up dressed in all black, give someone his name, and he was handed a security vest. Holy s**t!
Related: Viral Video Shows Teyana Taylor Stopping Mid-Performance To Make Sure Fan Is Safe
While Jackson feels that he personally was qualified for the $17 per hour gig, he blames a lack of preparation for the tragedy that occurred, noting:
“I believe if we were all prepared the right way that stuff would have happened the way it did.”
See the full interview (below):
Horrifyingly, many outlets have now gotten their hands on a 56-page handbook allegedly given to security before the event. In the document, filed with Harris County, there is no mention of how to handle a 50,000 person crowd surge at the show, but what it did include is SHOCKING!
According to the handbook, staff was instructed to refer to dead concertgoers as “Smurfs,” as in the blue cartoon characters (pictured above). While the reason for this term is not clear, it may have been a macabre joke — eyewitnesses have reported seeing people turn blue from lack of oxygen at the show. Similarly, staff was told to “never use the term ‘dead’ or ‘deceased’ over the radio.” Which, TBH, just has us wondering: why were they more prepared to handle the fallout from deaths than putting up guidelines to prevent deaths??
Also, if they were told not to say “dead” over the radio, is that why Travis can now deny he knew “the severity of the situation”? Hmm.
The lengthy document also warned that “the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns.” WHAT?!
We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that by “a mass casualty situation” they are referring to the ever-present fear of a mass shooting like in Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival or a terrorist attack like at Ariana Grande‘s concert in Manchester, both in 2017.
Of course, Perezcious readers know that Astroworld was ultimately described as a “mass casualty event” by the fire department within thirty minutes of Scott’s performance. As a result, eight victims have died and many are severely injured, including a 9-year-old boy in a medically-induced coma and a 22-year-old college student pronounced brain dead on Tuesday.
According to the Astroworld Event Operations Plan obtained by the Houston Chronicle and the Associated Press, among other outlets, in case of a traumatic injury, employees were told to request additional help, create a perimeter, and request a “view-blocking barrier” and “partial evacuation of the area.” Guards were also asked to “watch for angry crowds.” Of course, these protocols were nearly impossible to follow during Friday night’s catastrophe, which saw thousands of concertgoers packed so tightly together that ambulances struggled to get through to care for sick fans.
Speaking of medics, emergency personnel were also apparently underprepared and understaffed. Madeline Eskins, an ICU nurse who attended the concert, described the sheer horror she witnessed, writing in an Instagram post:
“I ask where the ambu bag is, where the AED is, where the stretcher and ambulance is, where tf any s**t is and they said essentially there is none.”
“There’s one ambu bag, one stretcher and one AED for 3 – now 4 – people who are pulseless and blue. People from the crowd are trying to help. Teenagers are doing CPR trying to help but they’re doing it incorrectly. Then I see there’s other people doing CPR on people who still have a pulse bc nobody has done a pulse check. It was an absolute s**t show.”
Another EMT working the event, who goes by the username remi.rich on TikTok, described his experience in trying to save multiple victims at once in the middle of the crowd. Explaining that his “radio wasn’t working,” he said the environment of the concert made it difficult for anyone to care for patients properly or effectively, sharing:
“The music was way too loud. I had called for backup and for help so many times and it was just not going through.”
As things were turning deadly, he noted that many in the crowd didn’t care, and were instead trying to rush closer to the stage:
“My observations were that there was zero crowd etiquette at all. They just wanted to get closer to the show, closer to Travis Scott, and do their thing. They didn’t give a single damn about anyone around them. It was an absolute s**t show.”
There’s that wording again…
Astroworld (1/3) #astroworld #astroworldfestival #astroworld2021 #travisscott
♬ original sound – Rem
Texas attorney Thomas J. Henry, the father of Liam Payne’s girlfriend Maya Henry, has since started representing 68 members of the crowd, according to Showbiz 44, and he’s being contacted by more people “by the hour.” He told the outlet:
“While we are all still working to understand the full scope of the Astroworld tragedy, I believe the damages suffered by its victims could total in the billions.”
Kristian Paredes, 23, filed a lawsuit against the rapper, Drake — who was a guest performer with Scott at the height of the surge, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., and Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation for negligence. According to the complaint, she claimed:
“[Drake] come on stage alongside Travis Scott and helped incite the crowd.”
Sounds like both artists could be on the hook for quite a lot in damages when all is said and done.
Travis Scott’s ‘Rage’ History
As we’ve reported, Travis claims he was unaware of the casualties during and for a brief time after the event (while he was partying at Dave & Busters). Kylie Jenner has corroborated that claim, saying specifically that they “weren’t aware of any fatalities.”
It’s hard to see how that could be true given the video captured of him noticing an ambulance at the event, but if the “Smurf” reports are true then perhaps others were instructed not to tell him? Maybe he wasn’t in the loop on the disturbing nickname for dead concertgoers??
Related: Police Say Astroworld Security Guard Was Pricked In The Neck By A Needle
Either way, this outcome should be no surprise to Scott. In 2015, the 29-year-old pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct after his fans jumped a security barricade at Lollapalooza, which he inspired by saying:
“All my real ragers jump the barricade right now. Let’s go. Come over.”
He also added:
“I want chaos.”
Thankfully there were no reports of anyone getting injured at that event, despite hundreds storming to the stage. Three years later, he pled guilty to another misdemeanor charge for disorderly conduct after he encouraged fans to rush the stage and ignore security at a May 2017 concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. He paid a $7,465.31 fine, according to KFSM.
In an April 2017 show in NYC, Kyle Green, 27, broke several bones and vertebrae after Travis encouraged another fan to jump off of a balcony. He can now only walk with a “significant, significant disability.” Recalling the event, his attorney Howard Hershenhorn said that security picked Kyle up “like a sack of potatoes” instead of “putting him in a neck brace and on the backboard.” Green’s lawyer told DailyMail.com that he is “devastated and heartbroken” for the families of the Astroworld victims. Hershenhorn told Rolling Stone:
“He’s even more incensed by the fact that it could have been avoided had Travis learned his lesson in the past and changed his attitude about inciting people to behave in such a reckless manner.”
Wow… This is a lot to take in. It’s so hard to fathom how Scott could continue to be allowed to take the stage without some kind of training after causing such harm to his fans. He and his team have had so many chances to change and yet it seems he continues to prefer “chaos” over safety. And he got it.
[Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube & WENN/Avalon]