Houston officials release ages of victims

Memorial High School freshman John Hilgert went to Astroworld Festival with friends to see Travis Scott and others perform.

The 14-year-old had planned to arrive early to secure a good spot to see the performances on Friday. By the end of the evening, he became the youngest to die as thousands of people stormed the stage. School officials on Saturday identified him as one of eight dead — most of whom were in their 20s.

Two of the victims were 21 and two others were 23. The age of one person has not been determined, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The youngest of them, Hilgert, grew up in Hunters Creek Village with 15-year-old Robby Hendrix, who also attended the concert. Tracy Faulkner, Robby’s mother, bought her son’s ticket for his birthday and told him it would be like “a big rodeo.”

Faulkner ultimately regrets the decision.

“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” Faulkner said. “John was a good student and athlete and so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.”

She had known John for years. The two boys played soccer together, although John also played on a select baseball team.

“They were both in the same place at the same time and one came home and one that we will never see,” Faulkner said.

Counselors will be available at Memorial High School this week, officials said.

“Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial,” Principal Lisa Weir wrote in a statement. “This is a terrible loss and the entire MHS family is mourning today.”

Police Chief Troy Finner characterized the concert audience as young and that played a role in how authorities coordinated the closure of the festival – which lasted more than half an hour after the mass casualty incident was explained. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, meanwhile, worried that the death toll might have been higher had authorities not intervened when they did.

The tragedy at Astroworld Festival

Police warned concert organizers that people in the crowd were falling down as the concert progressed.

“This is an artist that we know has a following among young people with a bright future,” Hidalgo said. “No parent, no friend, no sibling should take their loved one to a world-famous artist and expect them to come home safely.”

Danish Baig, 27, was one of the oldest of the dead, trampled in the general admission crowd as Scott performed, according to Baig’s younger brother, Basil Mirza Baig. The siblings drove from Dallas to attend the festival in Houston.

“I have lost my brother,” said the brother in tears. “He tried to save our sister from the stampede.”

The siblings stood together, but were separated. Their phones fell to the floor and Baig couldn’t reach his brother. First responders rushed Baig to a hospital, but he died in the ambulance, the brother said.

Authorities are assessing the mass victim as a criminal investigation with homicide and narcotics investigators, officials said. The cause of death has not been established.

The identity of one victim has not been established and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science has since sought help in identifying him. The man in his twenties was described as weighing nearly 500 pounds. He was wearing size 11 Nike sneakers at the time of his death.

Hidalgo promised to find out how the concert evolved into chaos and whether it could be prevented. She said similar crowd control issues were reported at the same festival in 2019 and additional security was added as a result.

Baig’s brother states that the concert organizers have also done little. In a separate Facebook post, he said the concert was poorly organised.

“Travis Scott kept telling people to rage,” Baig said. “We were nobody to them.”

More than two dozen people were taken to hospital after the concert, about half of whom were still in hospital on Saturday afternoon. Five of the hospitalized concert visitors are minors.

Additional people who died during the concert have not been identified. Autopsies are still pending for the eight people and authorities are trying to speed up the investigations so that families can prepare the funerals.

Samantha Ketterer contributed to this report.

At least eight people have been killed and dozens more injured after a sold-out crowd of approximately 50,000 people showed up outside NRG Park late Friday during rapper Travis Scott’s performance at the Astroworld Festival, overwhelming security forces and resulting in one of the deadliest concerts in the U.S. history. Video: Laura Duclos, ABC13 Houston, Eric Daniels

Leave a Comment