HOUSTON – A new task force will look into how to improve the safety at large Houston-area events in the hopes of avoiding another tragedy like last year’s deadly Astroworld music festival, officials said Wednesday.
The task force will review possible safety upgrades, look at ways of improving communication between different agencies and departments and make recommendations “to ensure consistent operational standards for future events,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Questions have been raised about a possible lack of coordination between officials who work for the city of Houston and surrounding Harris County, and festival promoter Live Nation over several issues before the Nov. 5 concert. Among the questions were whether there was sufficient security and medical personnel and whether there was sufficient coordinated planning for responding to emergency situations like the massive crowd surge that led to 10 deaths.
“We know that the city and county can do better,” Turner said.
The 10 people who died were among 50,000 who attended the festival headlined by rapper Travis Scott.
Those killed died from compression asphyxia. A medical expert said the pressure from the crowd surge was so great that it quickly squeezed all the air from the victims' lungs, causing them to pass out within a minute or so and die because critical organs were depleted of oxygen.
Those who died ranged in age from 9 to 27 years old. Roughly 300 people were injured and treated at the scene, and 25 were taken to hospitals.
Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said he hopes the task force will help resolve any fears people might have about the safety of Houston-area events.
“I want this task force to resolve concerns of parents throughout our region, that if they’re coming to an event, whether inside the county or inside the city, that they know that there has been a great deal of thought put into the safety and well-being of all attendees at these respective events,” Garcia said.
The task force is set to meet monthly, but no date was given for when its members hoped to finish their work.
When asked by reporters how much of the task force’s work would focus on figuring out what went wrong at the Astroworld festival and what coordination among the various parties wasn’t done, Turner said the group would look to the future and not back at any one event. He said the task force would not interfere with the criminal investigation of the Astroworld concert that’s being led by Houston police.
More than 400 lawsuits have been filed over injuries and deaths at the concert, including many against Live Nation and Scott.
Last month, the Texas Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which is overseen by the Texas Supreme Court, agreed to consolidate the lawsuits and let them be handled by one judge as the cases proceed through the court system. The panel hasn't yet chosen a judge.
The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee in December announced it was investigating Live Nation’s role in the deadly concert.
Find the AP’s coverage of the Astroworld festival: https://apnews.com/hub/astroworld-festival-deaths
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70