Emergency plans for the Astroworld music festival did not include protocols for dangerous crowd surges like the one that unfolded during a rush to see headliner Travis Scott, which left eight people dead and injured hundreds of others, including a 9-year-old boy whose family said was in a coma.
The concert area in Houston where a crush of fans had pressed forward during the rapper's Friday night performance remains largely in place as authorities continue a criminal investigation. More than 20 lawsuits have already been filed, accusing organizers of failing to take simple crowd-control steps or staff properly.
Houston police, along with the fire department, played a key role in safety measures at the sold-out show that drew 50,000 people. The union head of the Houston Fire Department pushed back Tuesday, saying firefighters did not have a presence inside the festival and were not given radios to communicate directly with organizers.
Hundreds of people were treated for injuries on-site and at least 13 were hospitalized. They included a 9-year-old boy who attended the festival with his father but became separated as the crowd became dangerously packed, according to family members.
Bernon Blount said his grandson, Ezra, was in a medically induced coma on Tuesday at a Houston hospital and that the boy's heart, lungs and brain were injured in the melee.
A 56-page event operations plan for the Astroworld music festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, bomb or terrorist threats and severe weather. But it did not include information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.
"In any situation where large groups of people are gathering, there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests," the plan said. "The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open. Crowd management techniques will be employed to identify potentially dangerous crowd behavior in its early stages in an effort to prevent a civil disturbance/riot."
Experts say crowd surge deaths happen because people are packed into a space so tightly that they are being squeezed and can't get oxygen. It's not usually because they're being trampled.
Scott, who founded the Astroworld festival, said he would cover funeral costs for the victims. The dead ranged in age from 14 to 27 and came from Texas, Illinois and Washington state, according to Harris County authorities. They included high schoolers, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student.
Houston police and fire department investigators have said they are reviewing surveillance video provided by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people at the show that were widely shared on social media.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.