The 10 people killed at the Astroworld music festival in Houston all died from compression asphyxia during a massive crowd surge in which attendees were packed so tightly that many could not breathe or move their arms, officials announced Thursday.
According to a medical expert, what likely happened was the pressure from the large crowd at the event was so great that it quickly squeezed all the air from the lungs of the 10 victims, causing them to pass out within a minute or so and die because critical organs, such as the heart and brain, were depleted of oxygen.
Dr. George W. Williams, a critical care anesthesiologist with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said the hundreds and possibly thousands of pounds of pressure the victims likely felt on their chests was “like being crushed by a car.”
“Seconds really do count to allow for that person to recover and to be rescued from that terrible event … The organs like the brain and the heart start getting injury and after three to four minutes that injury becomes so severe to where you can’t bring that person back,” said Williams, who also works at Harris Health LBJ, one of the health science center’s teaching hospitals.
Medical examiners with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston had to wait several weeks following the Nov. 5 concert by rap superstar Travis Scott for additional test results before making final determinations on cause and manner of the deaths. The manner of the deaths was ruled as an accident.
The 10 people who died were among 50,000 who attended the festival and were in the audience when Scott’s concert turned deadly.