A 14-year-old baseball devotee, a high school junior who loved dancing, and a heroic fiancé were among the eight people who died Friday at Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival in Houston.
Franco Patino, 21, was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Dayton from Naperville, Illinois. He was a member of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda. On social media, Patino joked about advanced calculus equations and often praised his “Dayton Family.”
Patino’s father, Julio, told The Daily Beast that his son was a “true leader” who taught disabled kids about engineering in his spare time.
“He had so many friends, so many people, everywhere he goes he was shining,” he said.
Julio was furious at what he felt were obvious failures by Astroworld organizers. “I believe they didn’t have all the contingencies in place. Something went very wrong,” he said. “Who’s gonna pay the price for the life of these people?”
Patino traveled from Illinois to the festival with his best friend from high school, Jacob Jurinek, who also died. Jurinek was a student at Southern Illinois University pursuing his passion for art and media.
“It’s a terrible loss, he was great kid,” his father, Ron, told The Daily Beast on Sunday, before saying the family was too grief-stricken to talk further.
In a subsequent statement, the family said Ron and his son grew extremely close after Jacob’s mom, Alison, died in 2011.
“In the decade since, Jake and Ron were inseparable—attending White Sox and Blackhawks games, sharing their love of professional wrestling, and spending weekends with extended family and friends at Jake’s favorite place, the family cottage in Southwestern Michigan,” the statement said.
He was “beloved by his family and by his seemingly countless number of friends for his contagious enthusiasm, his boundless energy, and his unwavering positive attitude. He was an avid fan of music, an artist, a son, a best friend to many, and a loving and beloved cousin, nephew, and grandson.”
Jurinek’s social media profiles showed a passion for drawing, digital art, video editing, and hip-hop music. “I currently help make the photoshoped posters and banners for social media for athletics at siu and hopefully one day I can take what I know and make a business out of designing whether it be cool graphic tees,” he wrote in March.
Basil Baig said his 27-year-old brother, Danish Baig, died while trying to save his fiancée from being crushed by the surging crowd.
“He was [an] innocent young soul who would always put others before him. He was a hard-working man who loved his family and took care of us. He was there in a heartbeat for anything. He always had a solution to everything,” he said in a statement to ABC News.
He said his family had not heard from Scott or the event organizers, and they planned to hire an attorney.
“Travis Scott and his team and everyone associated in the event should and WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE. He [didn’t] stop the show even with people chanting and to stop the show. He allowed it. This was a blood bath and all of it is on his hands,” the statement said.
A high school in Houston also put out a statement Saturday saying one of its students, a 9th grader, had been killed. ABC13 identified the boy as 14-year-old John Hilgert. The letter from Memorial High School reads, “Our hearts go out to the student’s family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial. This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today.”
Tracy Faulkner, whose son Hendrix went to Astroworld and was a friend of Hilgert’s, told the Houston Chronicle that he was “a good student and athlete and so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.”
“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” she added.
Another victim, barely older than Hilgert, was 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, whose family confirmed to People that she was among the dead. In a GoFundMe post dedicated to Rodriguez, the family noted that the “beautiful, vibrant” high-school junior’s passion was “dancing and now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates.”
Rudy Peña, a man from Laredo, Texas, also died in the tragedy. His family confirmed his death to local news outlet the Laredo Morning Times. They discovered he was dead around 12:30 a.m.
His sister Jennifer Peña told LMT, “My brother was the sweetest person, friendly, outgoing, he had many friends because he was always there for everyone. Yes, he was a big fan of Travis, he loved his music.”
Peña appeared to have recently celebrated his 23rd birthday on social media.
Houston officials had to ask the public for help in identifying the eighth victim but his father came forward on Sunday afternoon to say it was his 21-year-old son, Axel Acosta, a computer science student at Western Washington University who was attending his first large music festival.
The victims ranged in age from 14 to 27. Two dozen people, including a 10-year-old boy, were hospitalized, and on-site medics treated more than 300 people on Friday.
On Saturday night, Scott spoke about his anguish over the deaths on his Instagram stories and is “we’re actually working right now to identify the families so can assist them through this tough time.”
He added, “any time I can make out anything that's going on, I stop the show and get them the help they need...I could never imagine anything like this just happening.”
Attendees told The Daily Beast that the festival seemed poorly organized. Fans were jammed in so tightly they couldn’t breathe and outnumbered medics were quickly swamped as lifeless bodies were pulled from the crowd. Some medics didn’t know how to administer CPR or take pulses, concertgoer Madeline Eskins said.
Other fans had complained about the festival and even notified event staff of the deadly chaos as it happened, but most of the staff ignored their pleas. Another attendee described the feeling of the giant crowd as “like drowning in quicksand.”
As the huge crowd surged forward during Scott’s set, many were trampled or lost consciousness after struggling to breathe.
Though first responders were on the scene at 9:30, minutes after the “mass casualty event began,” Scott’s set didn’t end until 40 minutes later. The rapper, who noted an emergency vehicle in the crowd before continuing his performance, said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place last night.”