Shahani’s family and their lawyer confirmed her death at a press conference Thursday.
“She was like an angel to us,” Shahani’s father, Bhagu “Sunny” Shahani, said during the press conference. “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.”
Shahani is now the ninth person to have died from the Astroworld crowd surge, which also left hundreds injured. Bharti’s mother Karishma Shahani similarly described her daughter as selfless and a hard worker who put others first.
“Bharti is love. She was always thinking about everybody — friends, parents, family. Only giving, she doesn’t ask for anything,” Karishma Shahani said. “God gave me a blessing, but what happens now? What happens to my blessing now? I want my baby back. I won’t be able to live without her, it’s impossible.”
The concert, Karishma Shahani said, was the first thing Bharti had asked for herself instead of for others. She originally told her daughter she couldn’t go to the show before relenting.
“I know a concert might be music — girls having fun — but this was not a concert,” she said, sobbing. “I don’t know what it was but this wasn’t a concert because my baby didn’t come back.”
In one of the press conference’s most heart-wrenching moments, Karishma Shahani ended her mourning by begging for her daughter back while the rest of her family embraced her and walked her back to her seat.
As Houston’s ABC affiliate reported Tuesday, Shahani showed no signs of brain activity and had been placed on a ventilator after being caught in the stampede. She reportedly suffered multiple heart attacks, with her cousin, Mohit Bellani, saying at the time, “I think she lost oxygen for 10 minutes one time and seven minutes at another time. So her brain stem was swollen to like 90 percent almost.”
Bharti Shahani had attended Astroworld with her sister, Namrata Shahani, and 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 said.
At the conference, Bellani said his cousin was like a sister to him, and he described Bharti as “the superglue” of their family. The concert, he said was a “nightmare” and a “catastrophe.” Bellani placed the blame directly on the show’s organizers.
“The word that should be used is atrocity, this was an act of pure brutality,” Bellani said. “If the producers, the venue, the organizers and Live Nation had done their job, if they had hired properly vetted security and trained medics, if they hadn’t grossly oversold the event and then let hundreds, maybe thousands of people sneak in, if they hadn’t packed us in on all three sides… they suffocated us. They did this to Bharti. They did this to the nine-year-old boy right now at the ICU who’s fighting for his life.”
Live Nation didn’t immediately reply to request for comment.
“This was a monumental travesty from start to finish,” Attorney James Lassiter said. “From the performer to the ticket sales, everybody gets an ‘F’. It failed at every level.”
Shahani would have graduated from Texas A&M in spring 2022 with a degree in electronics systems engineering. She already had a summer internship lined up for next year to, and her father said Shahani was ultimately preparing to take over the family business. Shahani’s family have set up a GoFundMe to cover medical and other expenses.
“She meant everything to me,” Namrata said of her sister. “We were always together, I’ve never known what it feels like to be without her. She was always someone I could look up to. When things got hard, I always told her, and she always helped me out. She felt like a second mother to me.”