“I picked up a child and his eyes rolled to the back of his head so I checked his pulse. I knew he was dead,” said concertgoer Billy Nasser. “I checked the people around me. And I just had to leave him there. There was nothing I could do.”
“Everyone in that venue, from the artist down, has a responsibility to public safety,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told CNN earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Scott has maintained that he did not know what was happening in the crowd during his set – and disputes city officials’ account of his responsibility in the deadly wave.
Scott’s attorney, Edwin F. McPherson, issued a statement Wednesday in which he blew up city officials in Houston over “finger-pointing,” “inconsistent messages” and withdrawal of statements.
As the investigation progresses, here’s what we know so far.
Authorities say they could not pull the plug
Several concertgoers told CNN that the audience increase happened after Scott took the stage.
Jeffrey Schmidt said he and his friend tried to flee as breathing became more challenging.
“Little did we know that hell was about to break loose. People began to faint and fall to the ground,” Schmidt told CNN.
First aiders began hearing about injuries around 9:30 p.m., and the show continued for another 40 minutes, authorities said. And when questions arose as to why the show was not stopped, officials said it was not in their power.
The “ultimate authority to end a show (was) with the production and the entertainer, and that should be through communication with public safety officials,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said earlier this week. “We’re not holding the plug.”
Finner has said the investigation revealed that police personnel told the production team that there was CPR going on on at least one person and to stop the show. Finder did not specify who the production team is or the time of the notifications.
Firefighters stationed outside the venue were not in radio communication with the emergency medical services hired by the concert organizers as the situation developed, said Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Lancton added that firefighters were instead given phone numbers, which are not a reliable method of communication during emergencies, given potential weakness in the signal during events involving large gatherings.
The plan identifies the role of the executive producer as well as the festival director as the only persons authorized to stop the concert. The document CNN received is labeled Version: 0.1, and it is unclear if it was the final version of the plan and when it was drafted.
McPherson, Scott’s attorney, said neither the festival director nor the executive producers are part of the rapper’s crew.
McPherson also noted Finner’s comments Saturday that authorities were concerned about stopping early due to potential riots by concert-goers.
All the victims were under 30 years old
Authorities have said it could take weeks for the doctor to determine the causes of death.
Here’s an insight into what we know about the victims.
Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M University student, died Wednesday night after being in critical condition for several days, attorney James Lassiter said. “This was her first music festival, our first music festival. She was looking forward to it. She had her outfits planned,” said Namrata Shahani, Bharti’s younger sister.
Axel Acosta Avila, 21, was a junior at Western Washington University and had an interest in computer science, according to the university. He was from Tieton, Washington.
Danish Baig, 27, died in an attempt to save his fiancée, who was trampled on and hit in the crowd, his brother Basil Baig told CNN. He was from Euless, Texas. “People would admire him for who he was,” Basil Baig said.
Jacob Jurinek, a 20-year-old junior who studied journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was also among the victims, the university said.
Another student, Franco Patino, was a senior at the University of Dayton who studied mechanical engineering and biomechanics in human motion, the university said. “He was loved by so many because of the loyal, loving, selfless, protective, funny and caring person he was,” his family said in a statement.
Rodolfo Peña, 23, lived in Laredo, Texas, and studied at Laredo College, according to his Facebook page.
Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a junior at Heights High School in Houston, according to a verified GoFundMe account created by her family. “Dancing was her passion, and now she’s dancing her way to the pearly gates of heaven,” the fundraiser says.
John Hilgert, 14, was a freshman at Memorial High School in Houston, a school district spokesman said.
Madison Dubiski, 23, was from Cypress, Texas.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Melissa Alonso, Travis Caldwell, Alanne Orjoux, Jenn Selva, Keith Allen, Victor Blackwell, Amir Vera, Maya Brown, Andy Rose, Caroll Alvarado, Jennifer Henderson, Chloe Melas, Claudia Dominguez, Gregory Lemos, Amanda Watts, Josh Campbell, Raja Razek, Anna-Maja Rappard, Kay Jones and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.
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