HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) A ninth victim of the Astroworld Music Festival audience in Houston has died. Texas A&M University student Bharti Shahani had been fighting for his life since the disaster at the show last Friday.
Relatives say the 22-year-old went to Travis Scott’s main concert with his cousin and younger sister. Shahani suffered several injuries and spent his last days in a respirator in critical condition.
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Shahani’s death leaves another Astroworld victim in the hospital. Dallas’ 9-year-old Ezra Blout continues to fight for her life at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Ezra traveled from North Texas to the concert in Houston with her father, Treston Blount. The little boy’s grandfather, Bernon Blount, said his son carried Ezra on his shoulders as he was crushed by the crowd and fainted, causing the little boy to fall to the ground. The 9-year-old was trampled down and, according to relatives, has injuries to his organs, swelling of the brain and went into cardiac arrest at one point.
Ezra was placed in a medically induced coma to reduce the stress on his body and hopefully help heal the trauma in his brain.
Meanwhile, the president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighter Association claims that the district fire chief, whose station was closest to NRG Park, stopped at the Astroworld venue on the morning of Nov. 5, but was denied entry twice.
According to Patrick “Marty” Lancton, the district fire chief at Station 21 stopped by to walk through the venue to get a piece of land ahead of Friday night’s concert, something he said is “normal”.
“As with any large, large-scale event, he took a walk over and said ‘hey, let’s check everything out,'” Lancton said. “In the city of Houston, a district fire chief is usually over three or four stations. When an answer is required in his area, he is the first to respond. He would be the one to take command if something happened and decide what resources. necessary. “
According to Lancton, the district fire chief was first denied access by security. He requested to speak with the chief of guards, who also denied the district chief access. Lancton said the district fire chief was given a map of the place instead.
Contemporary Services Corporation has been contacted for comment but has not responded.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña backed the allegations that the district chief was not locked in.
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But Peña went a step further and said he would like to see his team be part of the planning before the day of the event.
“I need to have my people there in the planning, in the contingency planning,” Peña said. “It’s important for us to have a comprehensive plan that everyone understands.”
Lancton said the district fire chief was among some of the first Houston Fire Department personnel on the scene after four firefighters stationed inside the orange parking lot became increasingly concerned about the situation unfolding inside the place.
The lack of professional emergency personnel at Astroworld was “definitely a problem,” Lancton said.
“What that really means is that the person who put the event on hired a third-party medical company … to handle any emergencies that happen inside,” Lancton said.
The Houston Fire Department “had no command and controlled presence on this inside the venue,” but was nearby “in a supporting role,” he added.
Lancton said firefighters at the scene asked the hired emergency personnel if they had radios and were given a list of cell phone numbers. He said the fact that the logistical emergency strategy relied on cell phones, not radios, was problematic because “seconds matter, communication matters.”
“I do not know that cell phones are very reliable when you have fifty or sixty thousand people, especially when you have people who are dying,” he said.
He said the firefighters primarily monitored the radio traffic from the Houston Police Department and noticed a growing tension from the authorities on the ground. After hearing no response over the radio to declared medical emergencies, the HFD staff on standby chose to initiate an response themselves.
“They took it upon themselves when they started hearing radio traffic, and even launched a Houston Fire Department response and upgraded it to a mass accident,” he said.
Travis Scott’s attorney, Edwin F. McPherson, issued a statement Wednesday night blasting Houston city officials over “finger pointing,” “inconsistent messages” and withdrawal of statements.
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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. CNN Wire and © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)
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