Today is November 5th, 2021. It is a Friday. Who I am in this story is not important, rather it is important the things I have now witnessed.
Astroworld, Houston, Texas. Travis Scott is the only one performing. I don’t know how many people were at the festival, but I do know that every single person was at that stage.
My friend and I wanted to be close to the stage — as close as we could possibly get. We were not able to get very close, but we did end up on the side, near the walkway in the middle. Surrounding us were chest-high metal gates. "Barriers."
We stood there for two hours, as did every other person. Every gap was filled, where your feet were placed was where they stayed.
Energy rose as the time neared -beginning the show. Within the first 30 seconds of the first song, people began to drown — in other people. There were so many people. Tall men, women. Women and men where the only thing they could see was the back of the person in front of them.
The rush of people became tighter and tighter. Breathing became something only a few were capable of. The rest were crushed or unable to breathe in the thick, hot air.
My friend began to gasp for breath, and she told me we needed to get out. We tried. There was no where to go. The shoving got harder and harder. If someone’s arms had been up, it was no longer a possibility to put it down.
So, people began to choke one another as the mass swayed. It became more and more violent. We began to scream for help. We could see security, just a few people over, in the walkway in the middle. It got tighter. Impossible to breathe, as our lungs were compressed between the bodies of those surrounding us. More people began to scream for help, some began to collapse.
The music continued. Hundreds of people ripped their vocal cords apart screaming for help, but we were not heard. There was nowhere to go.
My friend was trapped between people on every side of her, and she desperately tried to move towards the rail. It was no use. The screaming intensified, as more people realized they could not breathe.
We begged security to help us, for the performer to see us and know something was wrong. None of that came. We continued to drown. More and more.
One person fell, or collapsed, it doesn’t matter how it started. Once one fell, a hole opened in the ground. It was like watching a Jenga Tower topple. Person after person were sucked down.
You could not guess from which direction the shove of hundreds of people would come next. You were at the mercy of the wave. I watched my friend be dragged away from me, and lost sight of her. I began to realize in that moment that there is a way to die that not many people know about. Being trampled to death.
I saw terror in every eye that I met, even the ones that told me to breathe and stay calm. We knew there was a very big chance some of us would not make it out alive. I was pushed away from the rail, into the crowd of people, where I could hear from another direction the shrieks of animals. It was happening all around me. These sinkholes of people. I was moved back towards the sinkhole I started at and was pushed to the edge of it.
I sunk my feet into the ground, put my arms out and tried to stop anyone from entering the circle, or pushing those already in it. I was shoved further to the ground, my face down at the cold, hard plastic below us, and saw the body of a man. His face below mine. I lost it.
There were people below the ones I could see from above. There was a floor of bodies, of men and women, below two layers of fallen people above them. I began to shriek; I felt a primal fear rip through me, and I am not sure anyone understood the magnitude of the situation below.
I screamed there were people on the floor. There were people. Unconscious. Being trampled by every foot that slammed into the ground as each individual tried to keep themselves upright. I saw his face. I became a shield for him. I think he smiled at me.
Then I was shoved to the side. I saw more shoes slam to the ground. Exactly in the spot his body lay, face-up. I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t help any of them. I didn’t stop screaming the entire time.
No one knew there were people below those that they could see. I almost met the same fate. I was losing balance, and I asked a man to grab me. He pulled me up, and I righted myself for just a fraction of a second before I was sucked back into the crowd.
I couldn’t take what I saw. I had to get out. I had to get help. I had to do something. Somehow, I went toward the back of the crowd, at a guardrail. A man pulled me over it.
There were some many people just standing there. Like nothing was happening. Like people weren’t dead a few feet from them. I saw the cameraman, eyes glued to the stage, elevated on a platform. A platform that looked directly into the crowd. I climbed the ladder and pointed to the hole, telling him people were dying.
He told me to get off the platform, and continued filming. I screamed over and over again. He wouldn’t even look in the direction, so I pushed the camera so it pointed toward where I had just come from. He became angry. He called someone else up.
I told him the same thing. People were dying, we needed to stop the music, we needed help, we needed attention towards the mass because I thought if only these people were aware, maybe they would do something.
The other man grabbed my arm, and told me he would push me off the 15ft platfrom with no sides if I didn’t get down. I told him to help. I told him people were dying. I showed him where. He wouldn’t look in the direction either. I was in disbelief.
Here were two people that could actually do something. Had the power to do something. Cut the camera, call in backup, pause something. They did nothing.
I looked over at the sinkhole. People were screaming, reaching out their hands toward me, calling for help. I couldn’t see the floor.
The strangest thing happened in that moment. People began to boo at me. They pointed their fury at me, unleashed a rage. I screamed people were dying over and over. No one would listen.
Somehow I ended up on the ladder, going back down, mindlessly. I should have ripped that camera to shreds. I looked the other guard in the eyes and told him he was the one responsible for countless deaths. He did nothing.
I went under the platform, called 911. The only thing they said was they were calling the medical team in. I told the operator over and over we needed to stop the concert because we just needed a pause. We needed light, awareness of the deaths. Nothing.
A kid watched me under the platform, watched me break down in tears, explaining how I saw people crushed, stomped on, unconscious. He watched the operator say nothing of use to me. I went out, not sure what to do. Suddenly two men in red medical shirts, looking confused and lost bumped into me.
I explained everything and they told me they had gone in and saw nothing. Two girls that were in the pit with me were standing beside me, heard that and helped explain it was there. We led them to it.
They climbed the metal gates and went through to the people. Those were the only ones working that were brave that night. I had endless respect for those two men. We waited, the two girls and I, and watched people being thrown over the railing, people trying to escape the cage we had been in.