Attorney James Lassiter made the announcement alongside Shahani’s family at a press conference Thursday, noting that the 22-year-old, who had been on a ventilator since the weekend, died on Wednesday night at the Houston Methodist Hospital.
“I’m empty here,” Shahani’s mom, Karishma Shahani, said as she pointed to her heart.
Sunny Shahani called his daughter a “perfect angel.”
“She was like an angel for us, she was the head of the family,” he said. “[She was] always calm, always listens, and she had a bright future.”
Shahani was the eldest of two daughters born to immigrant parents and was studying electronics systems engineering at Texas A&M University. She had hoped to graduate next spring.
The Astroworld festival—which has been widely criticized for security, medical, and crowd control failures that have now deluged headliner Travis Scott and festival organizers in a sea of lawsuits—was Shahani’s first music festival, her mom said.
She attended with her sister, Namarata Shahani, and cousin Mohit Bellani.
Namarata said Thursday that she remembers grasping her sister’s hand at the concert and then the next moment, Shahani “was in the ER unconscious on a ventilator.”
Through tears, she said the last words she remembers her older sister uttering were, “Are you alright?” as the 50,000-strong crowd surged around them.
Lassiter confirmed that Shahani was the young woman seen in a viral video falling from a gurney as Houston police and emergency medical personnel tried to carry her limp body through the packed crowd and over a barricade at NRG Park.
Bellani described the festival as an “atrocity,” placing blame squarely on organizers for a “grossly oversold” event that had packed fans in from three sides.
“This was 100 percent avoidable,” he said, blasting organizers for failing to hire properly-vetted security and trained medics to care for their injuries.
“This was an act of pure, pure brutality,” he declared. “They suffocated us. They did this to Bharti, they suffocated Bharti.”
According to family, Shahani had two heart attacks on the way to the hospital and was immediately intubated, which came as a shock to Bellani, who had assumed she might just be suffering from dehydration and would leave the hospital alive.
He said he was the first to arrive in the emergency room to find his cousin unconscious, with tubes down her throat. Her brain stem was badly swollen from a loss of oxygen.
“I just like immediately shut down, like completely. That should never happen to anyone, especially not at a concert, it’s a celebration, right?” he said. “It shouldn’t be—like people shouldn’t be dying.”
Lassiter said the family had not yet heard from Scott or his representatives, despite the rapper promising to cover funeral costs and saying on Sunday that he was “devastated” and was working to reach out to victims’ families.
“It feels like we’re still living in this nightmare that’s not ending,” Namarata said Thursday, adding that she’s still waiting for the moment she wakes up and can see her sister again.
“Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now, like I cannot put into words what Bharti meant to me because it feels like she meant everything to me,” she said. “I’ve never known what it feels like to be without her.”
In a statement Thursday, Scott and his team listed contact details for those families who wanted to directly reach his team for assistance, saying they have been “actively exploring routes of connection with each and every family affected by the tragedy through the appropriate liaisons.”
“He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family’s wishes on how they'd best like to be connected,” the statement said.