22-year-old 'shining star' becomes ninth person to die after Astroworld crowd surge

12 November 2021, 06:59 | Updated: 12 November 2021, 08:02

Bharti Shahani was critically injured in the incident
Bharti Shahani was critically injured in the incident. Picture: Facebook

By Daisy Stephens

A ninth person has died after a crowd surge at the Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Bharti Shahani, 22, was critically injured when fans pushed towards the stage during a performance by Travis Scott and has now died, according to family lawyer James Lassiter.

It brings the total number of deaths from the tragedy to nine.

"Bharti was a shining star in the community," Mr Lassiter said at a news conference.

"She was a sister, a daughter, a high-achieving college student about to graduate from Texas A&M University with high, high grades."

Read more: Travis Scott 'absolutely devastated' after eight people die in crowd surge at Texas show

Read more: Pictured: Victims of Travis Scott concert crush

Hundreds of others were injured in the surge on Friday night as Scott took to the stage.

At least two remain in a critical condition, including a nine-year-old boy whose family say was placed in a medically induced coma after sustaining injuries to his heart, lungs and brain.

A criminal investigation into the deaths at Astroworld is under way, but no fault has been assigned yet.

Scott was just minutes into his headlining show at the sold-out festival when at least one Houston officer radioed over a police channel that the main stage had been compromised by a massive crowd surge.

The police radio traffic reveals how quickly law enforcement became aware of the danger.

"Looks like folks are coming out of the crowd complaining of difficulty breathing, crushing-type injuries," one official said over the police radio around 9:21pm - just 20 minutes after Scott took to the stage in his hometown of Houston - according to audio obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

"Seems like the crowd is compressing on itself."

Read more: Travis Scott pledges to help families as police probe crush at gig that left eight dead

Scott kept performing his hour-long set, with his lawyers saying he did not know about the tragedy until after the show.

Officers reportedly saw people leaving the crowd, but for the first half an hour their voices remained calm.

"I'm at the medical tent," one officer radioed in around 9:30pm.

"There's a lot of people trampled and they're passed out at the front stage."

"We're getting multiple reports of people getting injured," another officer said later.

"We have another report of cardiac situation with CPR by the stage."

It was at this point Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said police told organisers to shut down the performance.

At 10:03pm, authorities said the concert was in the process of shutting down but witnesses say the performance continued.

Tributes have been left outside the festival grounds at NRG Park in Houston
Tributes have been left outside the festival grounds at NRG Park in Houston. Picture: Alamy

The festival was held on November 5 and 6, although the second day was cancelled after the tragedy.

it attracted around 50,000 people.

Mr Finner repeatedly refused to provide a timeline of events at his second press briefing, saying the case was still under investigation.

He said police presence was double what it was when the festival was last held in 2019, with more than 500 officers in attendance.

However he said festival organisers had not given clear records of how many private security guards were there, and added that it was up to Live Nation Entertainment, the show's promoter, to secure the two mosh pits in front of the stage.

Scott's lawyers pointed to an operational plan for the event that states only the festival director and executive producers have the authority to stop the show, "neither of which is part of Travis's crew".

"Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again," lawyer Edwin F. McPherson said in a statement.