Warning: This story contains graphic content
The horror and helplessness that unfolded at the Astroworld festival was captured in a graphic social media post by a young woman who was trapped in the deadly crush, barely escaped, and tried to get help—only to have her pleas to stop the music go ignored.
“I saw terror in every eye that I met,” Seanna McCarty wrote on Instagram after eight people were killed while Travis Scott performed on a Houston stage Friday night.
McCarty—whose efforts to raise the alarm were caught on video—said she and a friend wanted to get as close to the stage as possible and found a spot on the side near a walkway—where they stood for two hours.
“Every gap was filled. Where your feet was placed was where they stayed,” the Texas A&M student wrote.
“Within the first 30 seconds of the first song, people began to drown—in other people... The rush of people became tighter and tighter. Breathing was something only a few people were capable of.
“The rest were crushed or unable to breathe in the thick, hot air. My friend began to gasp for breath, and she told me we needed to get out. We tried. There was no where to go.”
Trapped in the crowd, McCarty felt the shoving of those around her get harder, leaving even less space to move or breathe. “If someone's arms had been up it was no longer a possibility to put it down,” she said.
“So, people began to choke one another as the mass swayed. It became more and more violent. We began to scream for help.”
They could see security officers a short distance away but could not get their attention. “More people began to scream for help, some began to collapse. The music continued,” she wrote.
“Hundreds of people ripped their vocal cords apart screaming for help, but we were not heard. There was nowhere to go.”
As people fell, a hole in the crowd opened, and then more people fell into it. “It was like watching a jenga tower topple. Person after person were sucked down. You could not guess from which direction the shove of hundreds of people would come next... You were at the mercy of the wave.”
McCarty saw her friend dragged away and lost sight of her. “I began to realize in that moment there is a way to die that not many people know about. Being trampled to death,” she wrote.
“We knew there was a very big chance some of us would not make it out alive.”
She said she was pushed to the edge of what she called a “sinkhole of people” and put out her arms to stop others from falling. She was pushed toward the ground and “saw the body of a man... his face below mine.”
“There was a floor of bodies, of men and women, below two layers of fallen people above them. I began to shriek,” she said.
She said she became a shield for the man—“I think he smiled at me”—and then was shoved to the side. When she looked over, all she could see was feet pounding where his body had been.
“I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t help any of them,” she wrote.
Pulled back into the crowd, McCarty somehow made her way toward the back, where someone pulled her over the guardrail.
“There were so many people just standing there. Like nothing was happening. Like people weren’t dead a few feet from them,” she wrote.
She spotted the cameraman filming the concert on a riser and climbed up the ladder to plead with him. She says she was ignored and so she pushed his camera toward one of the human sinkholes.
A second man came up to the platform and “grabbed my arm, and told me he would push me off the 15ft platform with no sides if I didn’t get down,” she wrote.
“I was in disbelief. Here were two people who could actually do something... they did nothing,” she wrote, recalling that people in the crowd began booing her.
McCarty said she climbed down to the floor under the platform and called 911. Two medics in red shirts wandered by and she begged them for help. They said they had gone into the crowd looking for the injured but could not find anything.
She and two other girls showed them where to go. “They climbed the metal gates and went through to the people,” she wrote. “Those were the only ones working that were brave that night.”
“We waited, the two girls and I, and watched people being thrown over the railing, people trying to escape the cage we had been in,” she wrote.