Astroworld Victim Franco Patiño Was a 'Humble' 'Protector' - Rolling Stone
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Astroworld Victim Franco Patino Was a ‘Humble’ ‘Protector’ Who Aimed to Help His Mother Walk Again

“Any chance he got to help somebody who couldn’t help themselves, that was my little brother,” Julio Patiño’ says

Franco Patino

Sophie Wilson

Franco Patiño first got into biomedical engineering to help his mother, who suffers from inclusion body myositis, a rare condition that weakens damages and muscles. The 21-year-old thought that if he could invent some sort of exoskeleton for his mother, she could eventually be able to walk with no assistance. “He wanted to help people like my mom; to help people who need help,” his older brother, Julio, tells Rolling Stone. “He was just that type of person.”

Patiño was one of eight attendees of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival killed after a massive crowd surge threw the event into chaos Friday, injuring more than 300 people. Julio says that his brother posted to Snapchat earlier that day that he’d made his way into the fest, excited to attend an event he had spent months saving for with his friend.

The two had traveled to Houston from the University of Dayton, Ohio, where Franco was a senior. “After a couple of hours, nobody had heard from him. My mom wasn’t able to reach him,” Julio recalls. “And then she finally got a call. It was from his phone, from the nurse at the hospital and she thought it was him. But they were just letting her know what had happened.”

Julio says he attended a vigil at Franco’s fraternity — Alpha Psi Lambda, a Latino-oriented group — where his brother’s friends reflected on his big heart. “Everybody was just saying such nice things about him, how he was always there for everybody and acted like a big brother, making sure that everybody was OK,” he says. “He was the type of person that was going to be there for you and help you feel included. He was just spreading happiness and joy wherever he went.”

In addition to dreaming about helping his mother to walk again, Franco was also working on a device to help stop artery blockages, according to Julio: “With that, he was going to help save countless thousands of lives. He just had such a big impact on everybody. He just had a big heart and that was my little brother.”

An avid athlete, Franco competed in football, rugby, and wrestling in high school; his Instagram shows a dedication to working out. In 2019, he posted a workout photo, brow furrowed, eyes serious, the caption showing off his engineering calculus skills and declaring that “the gym is the only thing keeping me sane.” In another, he poses straight-backed, heavy barbells in hand, the caption a motivational speech about fighting through the pain to get “one step closer to a better you.”

“We would always give each other advice on workout regimens and how to be better at those sports,” Julio says. “And in life, especially financial stuff, like how to save money.”

Smiling friends are also a constant on Franco’s Instagram: gaggles of college students grinning in a dark restaurant or a Saint Patrick’s Day photo in which everyone is sporting kelly green sports gear (the caption: “Lucky is an understatement”). “There are so many stories [about his generosity]. He was just so humble about it,” Julio says. “From little things to staying up with his friends until five in the morning, helping them study, all the way up to if I’m in trouble or my parents are in trouble, he’d drive all the way from Ohio, come help us out [in Naperville, Illinois], and then go back that same day too. He was a protector; any chance he got to help somebody who couldn’t help themselves, that was my little brother.”

Franco’s college friend, Rachel LaFerriere, remembers how supportive he was, always attending her dance recitals and film premieres. “We recently spoke about being scared to graduate soon and make it to the ‘real world,'” she tells Rolling Stone. “But Franco always reminded me that he had so much faith in me and my dreams, and spoke of his own passions and dreams with a massive grin. He was determined and worked so hard to reach his goals. He’d never let anyone believe their dreams were out of reach. It hurts that he’ll never be able to reach all of his dreams.”

By sharing his brother’s story, Julio hopes to raise awareness of what happened at Astroworld and prevent such an event from happening again. “I just want something to change — that we don’t just forget about it and the next week, nothing happens and it continues to happen,” he says. “Everybody I’ve talked to, they said that in concerts, big like that, if you go on the front, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to get squished. … That’s just a norm. And I don’t want that to be anymore. … People are dying and my little brother’s gone and this needs to stop.”

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