Astroworld victim Bharti Shahani dies as group claims fire chief was denied access to site twice – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – A ninth victim of the influx of crowds at the Astroworld Music festival in Houston has died. Texas A&M University student Bharti Shahani had fought for life since the disaster last Friday.

Relatives say the 22-year-old attended Travis Scott’s titled concert with her cousin and younger sister. Shahani suffered several injuries and spent his last days on a ventilator in critical condition.

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Bharti Shahani (courtesy of the Shahani family)

Shahani’s death leaves another Astroworld victim hospitalized. Ezra Blout, 9, of Dallas, continues to fight for his life at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Ezra traveled from North Texas to the gig in Houston with his father, Treston Blount. The little boy’s grandfather, Bernon Blount, said his son was carrying Ezra on his shoulders when he was run over by the crowd and passed out, sending the little boy to the ground. The 9-year-old was stepped on and relatives say his organs suffered damage, brain swelling and cardiac arrest at one point.

Ezra has been placed in an induced coma to reduce the stress on his body and hopefully help heal the trauma to his brain.

Meanwhile, the president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighter Association says the district fire chief closest to NRG Park stopped by the Astroworld site on the morning of November 5 but walked away. twice refused access.

According to Patrick “Marty” Lancton, the Station 21 District Fire Chief stopped to walk around the venue to get a feel for the grounds ahead of Friday night’s concert, which he said is ” normal”.

As with any large event, he walked around and said, ‘Hey, let’s check everything,’ Lancton said. “In the city of Houston, a district fire chief is usually on three or four shifts. “A response is required in his region, he is the first to respond. He would be the one to take command if anything happened and determine the resources needed.”

According to Lancton, the district fire chief was initially denied access by security. He asked to speak with the security chief who also denied access to the district chief. Lancton said the district fire chief had instead received a map of the location.

Contemporary Services Corporation has been contacted for comment, but has not responded.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña confirmed claims the district chief was not allowed entry.

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But Peña went further, saying he would like his teams to be part of the planning ahead of the day of the event.

“I need to have my people out there in the planning, in the contingency planning,” Peña said. “It’s important for us to have a comprehensive plan that everyone understands.

Lancton said the district fire chief was among the first members of the Houston Fire Department to the scene after four firefighters stationed inside the orange parking lot became increasingly concerned about the unfolding situation. inside the site.

The lack of professional emergency personnel at Astroworld was “absolutely a problem,” Lancton said.

“What this really means is whoever organized the event hired a third-party medical company… to handle all the emergencies that happen inside,” Lancton said.

The Houston Fire Department “had no command and no controlled presence inside the site,” but was nearby “in a supporting role,” he added.

Lancton said firefighters at the scene asked hired emergency personnel if they had radios and were given a list of cell phone numbers. He said the fact that the logistics emergency strategy relied on cellphones, not radios, was problematic because “seconds count, communication matters”.

“I don’t know if cell phones are very reliable when you have fifty or sixty thousand people, especially when you have people dying,” he said.

He said firefighters were primarily monitoring the Houston Police Department’s radio traffic and noticed increasing tension from authorities on the ground. After hearing no radio response to the declared medical emergencies, the waiting HFD personnel chose to initiate a response themselves.

“They took it upon themselves, when they started hearing radio traffic, and triggered a response from the Houston Fire Department on their own and turned it into a mass casualty incident,” he said. he declared.

Travis Scott’s attorney, attorney Edwin F. McPherson, released a statement Wednesday evening denouncing city of Houston officials for “finger pointing”, “inconsistent messages” and backtracking of statements.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The CNN Wire ™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)

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