On Friday, Nov. 5, at least 50,000 people attended the first day of Travis Scott’s Astroworld in Houston on Friday to catch a lineup that was set to feature SZA, Bad Bunny, and Tame Impala alongside Scott himself. But tragedy unfolded that evening when the massive crowd surged towards the stage during Scott’s performance. At least nine people died in the ensuing melee, and many more were injured.
Investigators are still trying to determine what led to the surge in the first place. “I’m honestly just devastated by what took place,” Scott said in a video on Instagram. “I could never imagine anything like this just happening.” Witnesses who spoke to Rolling Stone described shouting for help and trying to stop the show, to no avail.
The disaster took the lives of young fans — the seven victims who have been identified so far were between 14 and 27 years old. (One of the injured was just 10.) The victims ranged from John Hilgert, a young baseball enthusiast who got Astroworld tickets for his birthday, to Franco Patino, a college student studying biomedical engineering to help his mother; from Brianna Rodriguez, a “beautiful, vibrant” aspiring dancer, to Danish Baig, an AT&T employee who reportedly died trying to save his wife.
These are the victims’ stories.
Rudy Peña, 23, Laredo, Texas
Peña was the youngest of five siblings, a former high school football player studying criminal justice at Laredo College while also working as a medical assistant at a rehab clinic, according to People. “My God, how do I even describe him? He was the sweetest person,” his sister, Jennifer Peña, 30, tells Rolling Stone. “He was responsible. He was there for everybody. He was the youngest of all five of us. He loved to be close to his friends and family. He helped a lot. He was always smiling. He would come to me for advice. I loved that.”
Like so many listeners who flocked to Astroworld on Friday, Peña was also “a big fan” of Travis Scott. Sergio Gonzalez, the victim’s brother-in-law, told People that of all the siblings, Peña was “the calmest, the most playful, [and] the sweetest with everyone.” “I’ve been with my wife since before he was born,” Gonzalez continued, and “[his death] hurts so much.”
Peña’s family has not yet been able to see his body. “There are more questions in the air than answers,” Gonzalez told People. “How did this happen? We literally don’t know how he died. What were the circumstances?”
John Hilgert, 14, Houston, Texas
John Hilgert was just in ninth grade, but he was already six feet tall and a passionate baseball player capable of playing multiple positions. He received tickets to Astroworld as a birthday present, according to The Houston Chronicle, and was excited to see the show, texting his friend Robby to make sure they would arrive early.
“John was a good student and athlete and so polite,” Robby’s mother, Tracy Faulkner, told The Houston Chronicle. “He was the sweetest and smartest young man.”
Memorial High School in Houston put out a statement on Saturday remembering Hilgert and announcing that counselors would be available at school next week. “Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial,” principal Lisa Weir wrote, according to ABC 13. “This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today.”
Hilgert was also mourned by one of his baseball coaches, Justin Higgs. “The kid impacted everyone that met him,” Higgs wrote. “Privileged to have had the opportunity to coach him during those seasons of his life.”
Brianna Rodriguez, 16, Houston, Texas
Brianna Rodriguez was a lover of dance and a 16-year-old junior at Heights High School in Houston. “Brianna was someone who performed with the band and was someone who could always make anyone smile,” the Heights HS band wrote on Twitter.
In a heartbroken Facebook post, Iris Rodriguez described Brianna as a great hugger, “my go big or go home person,” and “the light of the family.” “Who will tell us what our Christmas themes will be?” Iris added.
Rodriguez’s family set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for her funeral. “Gone from our sites, but never from our hearts,” the page reads. “It is with profound sadness [that] we lay to rest our beloved Brianna Rodriguez… now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates.” More than 700 people had donated by Sunday morning.
Franco Patino, 21, Dayton, Ohio
Franco Patino was a senior studying biomedical engineering at the University of Dayton, Ohio. His goal was to create an exoskeleton for his mother, who suffers from inclusion body myositis, so that she could walk again. He was also working on a device to help clear blocked arteries. His brother, Julio, remembers Franco as “a protector, any chance he got to help somebody who couldn’t help themselves, that was my little brother.”
An avid athlete, Patino wrestled and played rugby and football, and was part of the Alpha Psi Lambda fraternity. He spent months saving for tickets to Astroworld and traveled there with his friend, Jacob Jurinek, who also reportedly died during the fest. “This is the type of stuff that should never happen,” Julio says. “There were so many things that went wrong that night that should’ve never happened. And I’m just so upset. And I really want you to raise awareness that this is something that shouldn’t happen and that it was very preventable.”
Jacob Jurinek, 20, Illinois
Jacob had traveled with his friend, Franco Patino, to Texas for the concert to reportedly celebrate Jacob’s 21st birthday. Jurinek, who along with Patino had grown up in Naperville, a suburb outside Chicago, was a graphic artist who was studying at Southern Illinois University. On his LinkedIn, Jurnek described himself as, “a creative mind with a knack for graphic design. A photoshop expert in the making, with a lot of hands on experience for someone still in college.” He loved sports, and ran the social media accounts for all the teams on campus. “It’s a terrible loss, he was great kid,” his father told the Daily Beast on Sunday.
“Jake was beloved by his family and by his seemingly countless number of friends for his contagious enthusiasm, his boundless energy and his unwavering positive attitude,” his family shared in a statement via TODAY. “He was an avid fan of music, an artist, a son, a best friend to many and a loving and beloved cousin, nephew and grandson. Always deeply committed to his family, he was affectionately known as ‘Big Jake’ by his adoring younger cousins, a name befitting of his larger-than-life personality.”
Danish Baig, 27, Texas
At 27, Danish Baig, is one of the oldest of Astroworld’s announced victims so far. He was a district manager for AT&T in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. According to posts on social media, he appears to have been married just three weeks ago. “My brother Danish Baig [was] a beautiful soul whose smile would light up a room and put everyone before himself,” his brother, Basil, wrote on Facebook.
Basil went on to say Danish died trying to save his new bride from being trampled. “Last night he showed his courageous act to save my sister in law from those horrendous things that were being done,” he wrote. I am lost of words and in true trauma from this event. I was there and I wasn’t able to save my brother.”
He went on to accuse the rapper of stoking the crowd. “People were hitting pushing and shoving and did not care for anyones life. Travis Scott provoked these people and made them do just that and more he called people to the stage to jump into the crowd and did not stop the show,” he wrote. “This is not the end my family and I will go to the full extent to make sure he is brought to justice.”
His family announced they would be holding a funeral for him on Sunday at an Islamic Community Center in Colleyvile, Texas.
Axel Acosta, 21, Washington State
Axel Acosta’s father, Edgar, confirmed to Houston’s ABC13 News that his son had died at the concert. Axel had turned 21 in October, his father said, and he had been attending Western Washington University, where he studied computer science. “It was his first time going to an event like that,” his aunt, Cynthia Acosta, told ABC, adding that he had traveled from Washington to Texas for this event on his own.
Madison Dubiski, 23, Houston
Dubiski, a University of Mississippi student, attended the festival with her younger brother Ty. Ty tried to pull Madison to safety but the two became separated in the melee. “She was super bright, uplifting and just an all-around sweet girl,” former classmate Lauren Vogler told the Houston Chronicle. “I cheered with her when we were younger, and she was always so encouraging. She was definitely the life of the party and loved by so many people.”
Bharti Shahani, 22, Texas
Shahani was a student at Texas A&M University who was set to graduate in spring 2022 with a degree in electronics systems engineering. Shahani had attended Astroworld with her sister, Namrata Shahani, and cousin, Mohit Bellani. The three lost each other when the crowd surge began, and after losing their phones, Namrata and Bellani were unable to find Bharti: “Once we let go of her hand, the next time we saw her, we were in the ER,” Namrata told a local news station in Houston. Shahani was taken to the hospital with critical injuries and she was kept on a ventilator before her death, with doctors determining she no longer had any brain activity.
“She was like an angel to us,” Shahani’s father, Bhagu “Sunny” Shahani, said. “She was the head of the family, she was a very nice girl. Always calm, always listened. She had a bright future. Only thing I’ll request, to the Houstonians, to please, please make sure that she gets justice. And I don’t want somebody else’s daughter to go like this.”