Astroworld: 14-year-old youngest victim of deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott concert

Eight lives cut short: Victims range from 14 to 27 years old

Sheila Flynn
Monday 08 November 2021 15:29
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner vows 'no stone left unturned' in Astroworld disaster
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The youngest victim of the deadly crowd surge at a Travis Scott concert in Houston was a talented baseball player who “lived life to the fullest”, his former coach said.

John Hilgert, 14, a freshman at Memorial High School in Houston, was among the eight people who died in the Astroworld Festival tragedy.

“Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial,” Principal Lisa Weir wrote in a message to parents.

“This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today. Please keep the student’s family in your thoughts and prayers as they face this tragedy.”

The victims who lost their lives range from ages 14 to 27, the mayor told a press conference on Saturday.

The families of six of the eight victims have been notified, officials said – but they are still trying to reach another and the eight is a male who has yet to be identified. Five of the victims still in the hospital are under the age of 18.

In a post on Facebook, John’s former baseball coach Justin Higgs paid tribute to him as a talented player who left an impression on everyone he met.

“His chapter isn’t over he’s playing ball in the sky right now watching over all of us. He was that good at not just baseball but being himself,” Mr Higgs wrote, adding he had “lived his life to the fullest”.

“Beyond sad for his family and friends.”

Police and fire authorities were trying to figure out how the Astroworld festival went so wrong on Friday night, when medical events and a “crowd surge” led to fatal chaos. More than 50,000 people attended the sold-out concert, with reports of people without tickets jumping fences and turnstyles and avoiding metal detectors.

Houston authorities on Saturday urged the public to come forward with information and not to buy into theories spreading on social media - while reiterating that they were ruling out nothing as they proceeded with their investigation.

“One of the narratives was some individual was injecting other individuals with drugs,” Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner said Saturday at a news conference. “We do have a report from a security officer ... that he was reaching over the restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck.”

According to Chief Finner, that officer fell unconscious and was revived with Narcan, which is administered to counteract opioid overdoses.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said he could not provide an exact number of narcan administrations but there were “several” or “many where they did administer Narcan on scene.”

According to the Saturday press conference, more than 520 HPD officers were working at the concert, augmented by 755 private security provided by LiveNation. The venue for the festival - which was started by rapper and Houston native Mr Scott - was at the site of a former Six Flags theme park and had experienced crowd control issues previously, but authorities insisted any missteps in the past had been corrected.

HPD Chief Finner said LiveNation was handing over footage later on Saturday to aid in the investigation.

Security apparently identified issues around 9.30pm on Friday and called for the event to be shut down, with nearly everyone removed from the venue by 10.10pm

“When you have a group that that’s young ... I think that part was pretty good,” Chief Finner said Saturday.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said authorities were “trying to untangle as much as we can about what may have led to this - of the roles, in particular, that Live Nation, that Harris County, had in any of this. It may well be that this tragedy is a result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together, that couldn’t possibly have been avoided.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that “nothing is off the table, in terms of persons who were there, people who may have fainted ... it is way too preliminary now to draw any conclusions.”

Both Travis Scott and Houston authorities have extended their condolences to the families of the victims - with HPD Chief Finner urging the rapper’s fans - who tend to be young: “Kids and young individuals that were out there: If you saw something, say something.

“This is now a criminal investigation that’s going to involve our homicide division as well as narcotics,” Chief Finner said. “And we’re going to get down to the bottom of it.”

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