(HOUSTON) — As names of most of the victims emerged in the deadly stage surge horror at the Astroworld Festival concert in Houston, 23-year-old Arturo Sanchez said his heart literally stopped as he was trampled by the crowd.
Bruised and battered, Sanchez told ABC News from his hospital bed on Sunday about the panic and chaos that erupted during the opening song of rapper Travis Scott’s performance.
He said that as soon as Scott began to sing, the crowd surged forward, knocking him off balance and causing him to fall to the ground near the front of the stage.
“I was on the floor screaming for help and trying to reach for people’s hands so they could see me and no one could see me,” Sanchez said. “I just kind of accepted the fact that I was going to die and I did for a little bit. My heart stopped, apparently.”
Sanchez said doctors told him he suffered a heart attack and had briefly flatlined.
He said he remembered a large man falling on him and sitting on his chest as he struggled to breathe and then passed out.
Sanchez said a registered nurse attending the concert performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him and helped get him to an ambulance.
“She saved my life, honestly,” Sanchez said.
Last victim identified
The medical examiner was able to identify the last of the eight victims who died on Sunday after asking for the public’s help in identifying the man.
Oscar Acosta confirmed to ABC station KTRK in Houston that his son, Axel Acosta, died at Memorial Hermann Hospital. He said his son traveled from Washington to see Scott perform.
Acosta identified his son after the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences released a post-mortem photo of the 6-foot-2, nearly 500-pound man, and asked the public for help in identifying him.
Axel Acosta was among the concertgoers killed when throngs in the estimated crowd of 50,000 packed into NRG Park — which is next to NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans NFL football team — suddenly surged toward the stage, authorities said. Another 25 people were injured, one just 10 years old, officials said.
Five other people killed were identified by either their families or the schools they attended.
‘An innocent young soul’
Danish Baig, 27, of Dallas was killed while trying to save his fiancee, Olivia Swingle, who had fallen and was about to be trampled by the concert-goers pushing forward, Baig’s brother, Basil Baig, told ABC News.
“He was an innocent young soul who would always put others before him,” Basil Baig said in a statement. “He was a hardworking man who loved his family and took care of us. He was there in a heartbeat for anything. He always had a solution to everything.”
Basil Baig said in a Facebook post that he also was at the concert, promoted and organized by Live Nation, and described it as being “poorly” managed and supervised. He alleged that Scott provoked the crowd to move toward the stage.
“Travis Scott and his team and everyone associated in the event should and will be held responsible,” Basil Baig said in his statement to ABC News.
In videos Scott posted on Instagram Saturday, he said he tried to spot people in the crowd having physical problems and paused during the show to try to get help to fans that appeared in need.
“I could just never imagine the severity of the situation,” Scott said in one of the videos.
In a separate statement, Live Nation said, “We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation.”
The youngest victim who died was 14-year-old John Hilgert, a freshman at Memorial High School in Houston, according to a letter the school’s principal sent to parents.
“Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial,” principal Lisa Weir wrote in the letter. “This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today.”
Victim had passion for dance
Also killed was 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, a junior at Heights High School in Houston, her aunt, Iris Rodriguez, told ABC News.
Iris Rodriguez said her niece had a passion for dance.
“Now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates,” the Rodriguez family wrote on a GoFundMe page that included a series of photos of Brianna.
College senior dies
Franco Patino, 21, a senior at the University of Dayton in Ohio, was identified by the school as one of the concertgoers killed.
In a letter addressed to members of the university’s campus community, the school’s president, Eric Spina, said Patino was from Naperville, Illinois, and was majoring in mechanical engineering technology with a minor in human movement biomechanics.
Patino was also a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic-interest fraternity, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Spina wrote. Patino had been working in an engineering coop program in Mason, Ohio, according to Spina.
Huge hole in our lives
The family of Jacob “Jake” E. Jurinek said in a statement Sunday that he was among those killed. Jurinek was a junior at Southern Illinois University and was majoring in art and media, his family said.
“We are all devastated and are left with a huge hole in our lives,” said Jurinek’s father, Ron Jurinek.
The concert bedlam unfolded around 9:30 p.m. local time Friday when the “the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena told reporters during a news conference Friday night.
“That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Pena said.
At least 13 people injured remain hospitalized, including five under the age of 18, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters during a briefing.
As of Sunday night, at least one lawsuit has been filed against Scott.
What triggered the surge is under investigation by the Houston Police Department. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation.
Scott’s shows have history of inciting crowds
Problems have previously occurred at other Travis Scott concerts. In 2015, the rapper was arrested on charges of inciting a crowd to jump barriers at a Lollapalooza concert in Chicago. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine, according to officials.
In 2017, Scott was arrested again after he invited more people to come closer to the stage, prompting fans at the Walmart Music Pavilion in Rogers, Arkansas, to breach barricades and overrun security. In that case, he also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid a fine.
Prior to the fatal surge at Scott’s concert on Friday night, some 300 people had been treated throughout the day at the music festival by on-site medical personnel, authorities said. There were “many instances” where they had to administer Narcan, which is used to treat a narcotic overdose, said Pena, who did not have an exact number.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that during the pandemonium, a private security guard working at the festival was possibly injected in the neck with drugs as he was attempting to grab or restrain someone.
“When he was examined, he went unconscious,” Finner said during a Saturday afternoon briefing. “(Medical staff) administered Narcan. He was revived, and the medical staff did notice a prick that was similar to a prick that you would get if someone was trying to inject.”
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.