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Astroworld: Organisers were ‘forewarned about overcrowding’

Ten concertgoers died following a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s headline set at the Houston festival on 5 November 2021

By Lisa Henderson on 21 Mar 2024

Organisers of Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival were allegedly warned about the overcrowding issues in 2021 that led to a fatal crowd crush.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd surge during Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap festival in Houston, Texas, on 5 November 2021.

According to new court documents, the head of safety for the festival raised concerns about the number of people that could be near the stage, 10 days before the event took place.

“I feel like there is no way we are going to fit 50k in front of that stage,” Seyth Boardman wrote to the festival’s operations director, according to BBC News. The exchange was one of many included in recent court filings.

The amendments were submitted by lawyers for the families of those killed at the event and others affected by the tragedy, as part of the mass civil litigation filed against the organisers.

Expert evidence submitted by the plaintiffs claims that festival planners miscalculated the number of people that could be legally allowed on the premise to avoid overcrowding.

The new documents suggest that organisers for Astroworld mistakenly thought that the fire safety code allowed for five square feet per person, but the actual number was seven.

This, it states, contributed to a crowd of roughly 50,000 people crammed into a space meant for only 34,500. The defence team is yet to file their expert reports in court.

“I feel like there is no way we are going to fit 50k in front of that stage”

The documents also illustrate that organisers appeared to be concerned that gatecrashers entering without a ticket could exacerbate the situation and further increase the crowd size.

This issue, the document alleges, was compounded by security lapses and a failure to monitor the crowd for signs of a potential crowd crush.

The civil case is set to begin in May, and the defendants include Scott, Live Nation Entertainment and venue manager ASM.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

Last year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of the lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case. The first wrongful death lawsuit settlements were reportedly reached last autumn.

In June it was announced that no criminal charges would be filed over the tragedy at Astroworld (cap. 50,000), which was promoted by Live Nation and Austin-based Scoremore.

Jurors at the Harris County District Attorney declined to charge Scott (real name Jaques Webster II), festival manager Brent Silberstein, John Junell of Live Nation, security planners Shawna Boardman and Seyth Boardman of Contemporary Services Corporation, and Emily Ockenden, formerly of event production company BWG, after reviewing all the evidence.

However, Scott could be ordered to pay a considerable sum of money, depending on the outcome of the civil case that begins on 6 May 2024.


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