Astroworld Plan Advised Crowd Management Controls to Prevent Riot, No Protocol for Surge

Authorities have discovered that protocols for a crowd surge were not listed in the Astroworld Festival's event operations plans.

The 56-page plan for the annual Houston festival, founded in 2019 by rapper Travis Scott, included plans of action for various scenarios like an active shooter or severe weather, according to the Associated Press. However, a review of the book shows that precautions to prevent and deal with a crowd surge were not included.

Authorities are citing crowd surge as the primary cause of the "mass casualty event" that took place at the festival on November 5. This surge, often caused by people being packed so tightly in an area that they cannot breathe, resulted in the deaths of eight people and hundreds of others injured.

"In any situation where large groups of people are gathering, there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests," Astroworld's operations plan states. "The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot."

The Associated Press has obtained the festival's security and emergency medical response protocols, which states "the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns."

At least 14 lawsuits have been filed against Scott and festivals organizers Live Nation and ScoreMore.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Houston Memorial
Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the deaths on November 5 at the Astroworld Festival in Houston. Above, people mourn at a makeshift memorial on November 7, 2021, at the NRG Park grounds in Houston, Texas. Photo by Thomas Shea/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities have said 50,000 people attended the event.

Among the hundreds injured was a 9-year-old boy who was trampled and remained in a medically induced coma at a Houston hospital Tuesday, according to his family.

If crowds are displaying threatening or destructive behavior, security and a supervisor should be notified, the plan said.

None of the people listed in charge of managing Astroworld's security and operations have responded to requests for comment.

Over 300 people were treated at a field hospital on-site and at least 13 were hospitalized.

Bernon Blount said his son and 9-year-old grandson, Ezra, had come from out of town to attend the festival together. But they became separated during the crowd surge, Blount said, setting off a frantic search to locate Ezra who was eventually found at a hospital. Blount said his grandson's heart, lungs and brain were injured in the melee.

"My son, once he had passed out from the pressure being applied to him during the concert, he passed out and Ezra fell into the crowd," Blount told The Associated Press. "When my son awakened, Ezra wasn't there."

Houston's police chief said Monday that he met with Scott to discuss safety concerns before the rapper performed on Friday. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Scott's head of security also attended that meeting, but he did not provide details of their conversation in a statement released by the police department.

Houston police and fire department investigators have said they are reviewing surveillance video provided by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people at the show that were widely shared on social media. Investigators also planned to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers.

Live Nation said in a statement Monday that full refunds would be offered to all attendees.

Scott's scheduled appearance at the Day N Vegas Festival in Las Vegas this weekend was canceled, according to a Scott representative who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Scott, who founded the Astroworld festival, said he would cover funeral costs for the victims. The dead ranged in age from 14 to 27 and came from Texas, Illinois and Washington state, according to Harris County authorities. They included high schoolers, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student.

It could be several weeks before medical examiners release the causes of death, said Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

The plan instructs staff to "notify Event Control of a suspected deceased victim utilizing the code 'Smurf'." It goes on to say, "never use the term 'dead' or 'deceased' over the radio." It's not clear whether the protocol was followed.

There is a long history of similar catastrophes at concerts, as well as sporting and religious events. In 1979, 11 people were killed as thousands of fans tried to get into Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum to see a concert by The Who. Other crowd catastrophes include the deaths of 97 people at a soccer match in Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 in Sheffield, England, and numerous disasters connected with the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Remnants of Astroworld
Eight people died and hundreds more were injured during a massive crowd surge during Travis Scott's November 5 Astroworld show. Above, the remains of the Astroworld Festival main stage are seen at NRG Center on November 8, 2021, in Houston, Texas. Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP

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