“Stop the show! Houston spectators describe chaos
HOUSTON (AP) – Shouting. Stifling. Panic. Unconscious.
On Friday night, spectators at a highly anticipated Houston music festival said they were shocked to see how the event turned into a pandemonium that left at least eight people dead..
Rapper Travis Scott was the headliner of the sold-out Astroworld festival at NRG Park, which was attended by approximately 50,000 people.
Here some of them describe chaos they’re still trying to figure it out.
Ariel Little from New York was in the middle of the crowd in a prime location with her husband for only a brief minute before she began to struggle.
It was while trying to escape the increasingly crowded room that the couple realized how dangerous it was getting.
Little’s voice quivered with emotion as she described how small she felt breathless as she was beaten by the crowd.
“My chest is in so much pain from people pushing and crushing – literally crushing – my chest and into my lungs. And all I remember is screaming for him. ‘I must leave ! I must leave !’ And people weren’t moving, ”Little said. “They thought it was a joke, but it was like people were literally dying.”
Her husband, Shawn, quickly scanned the area for a way out.
“There were a lot of people in my section who were screaming and having panic attacks just because it was almost like you were under an elevator and the elevator was falling on you and there was nothing you could do about it,” Shawn Little said. “Nobody in my section at the time was moving because I think everyone was just in shock at how crazy and panicked everyone was. There was a lot of fear in the eyes of the people.
Madeline Eskins is an intensive care unit nurse who said she was among those festival-goers who passed out as the mass of people crowded closer to the stage. She was taken to a slightly less crowded area for medical treatment, where she woke up.
Eskins, 23, of Houston, said she then saw someone nearby who needed medical help and told them she was a nurse. When a security guard heard her, he asked if she could start helping others, Eskins said.
“There were three people on the ground receiving CPR and the most disorganized chaos I’ve ever seen in my life,” Eskins said.
Eskins said she tried to guide medical staff and volunteers on how to use a defibrillator, and she also helped check pulses and perform CPR compressions on several people.
“When the lead performer came out – like Travis – people got squeezed because they just wanted to see him,” Sal Salinas said. “It was like you were suffocating in there. If you weren’t on the side or whatever, you were choking.
Niaara Goods, 28, of New York City, said the crowd grew as a timer clicked until the performance began.
“As soon as he jumped on stage, it was like an energy took over and everything just went haywire. All of a sudden your ribs are crushed. You have someone’s arm around your neck. You try to breathe but you can’t, ”said Goods, who traveled to Texas to see friends and celebrate a birthday.
She said she and her friends, one of whom was punched in the head and jaw, were quickly separated from each other but all escaped. Goods said she was so desperate to get out that she bit a man on the shoulder to get him to move.
“Some people laugh at us – the ones who are screaming to get out. Because they thought it was funny. They didn’t know it was terror, ”she said.
Later, after getting to safety, she saw the injured walking to safety in stretchers or wheelchairs.
“It was literally the scariest night of my life. I literally thought I was going to die trying to get out. It’s just not what you pay for, ”she said.
Gary Gaston, 52, of Houston, said he went to the concert with his ex-wife, their 14-year-old son and the teenager’s friend.
They felt so threatened after only a few songs from Scott that they decided to leave and meet outside by the medical tent.
When Gaston and his ex-wife arrived shortly after 10 p.m., he said he saw medical staff start bringing at least eight people into the tent on stretchers, most of whom appeared unresponsive.
“It was surreal because you see these people being pulled on these stretchers and people running to the medical tent, but the music goes on,” Gaston said. “The people in the arena didn’t know that.”
Gavyn Flores said people continued to try to squeeze into spaces where there were none, while others tried to make their way towards the barricades to safety.
“They couldn’t do it because there were people like blocking them, so these people like them just had to deal with it because they couldn’t get out of the show,” Flores said. “They were like chanting ‘Stop the show!’ and there was a guy in the back who was getting CPR. So many people were getting CPR, like it was nonsense.
Julian Ponce said there were signs of injuries but didn’t realize there were any deaths until he returned home.
“It was kind of mind-blowing, like we heard people say, ‘Stop the show. Stop the show ”, but we didn’t know what was going on. We heard someone was bleeding. We heard a lot of things and we weren’t too sure, ”said Ponce. “I don’t even know how to feel. It is just breathtaking.
Associated Press reporter Acacia Coronado contributed from Austin, Texas.