Astroworld Festival victims' deaths ruled as accident due to asphyxiation, medical examiner finds

BySteve Campion via KTRK logo
Friday, December 17, 2021
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More than a month since the Astroworld Festival tragedy that killed 10 people, we're learning more about the victims' cause of death.

HOUSTON -- More than a month since the Astroworld Festival tragedy that killed 10 people, we're learning more about the victims' cause of death.

On Thursday, the Texas' Harris County Medical Examiner's office ruled all victims died of "compression asphyxia." According to the report, Danish Baig's cause of death was asphyxiation but with a contributory cause of combined toxic effects of cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol.

Baig died during the Nov. 5 concert while trying to save his fiancée, according to his brother.

The other nine victims of the tragedy were identified as Rodolfo Peña, Madison Dubiski, Franco Patino, Jacob Jurinek, John Hilgert, Axel Acosta, Briana Rodriguez, Bharti Shahani and Ezra Blount.

The victims' deaths were ruled as an accident. As a result of the findings, James Lassiter, the attorney for Shahani's family, released the following statement:

"The medical examiner's findings confirm Bharti's family's worst fears. Their beloved daughter's last living moments were surely marked with suffering, panic, and terror. It's a horrific, inescapable image that no parent should have to endure. But that is the sad reality for the Shahanis and the nine other families that received this terrible news."

WATCH: Findings in Astroworld deaths point to negligence, lawyer says

Tony Buzbee, who is representing Acosta, also addressed the findings, stating the report confirmed what the family knew - "that (Acosta) was crushed and killed that night by the crowd, through no fault of his own."

Buzbee also added that Acosta's blood had no intoxicants or other like substances.

"Now that we have received the official results, I want to say to our police chief: Shame on you. Shame on you for perpetuating and giving credence to a silly rumor that people were being injected at the concert," Buzbee's statement read.

What was supposed to be a night of fun and full of live music turned into a nightmare when the crowd began pushing their way to the front. Panic began just minutes into Travis Scott's performance as people in the crowd were already in need of medical attention.

The event plan showed only two people had the authority to stop the show: the executive producer and the festival director. Police officials told the Houston Chronicle that Live Nation agreed to cut the show short, but Scott continued his set.

The victims' cause of death was released just one day after the concert stage at Houston's NRG Park was taken down. In the nearly six weeks since tens of thousands of people were crushed into the relatively small space for Scott's third Astroworld music fest in his hometown, investigators, both with various law enforcement agencies and attorneys representing victims, have collected and photographed evidence at the venue, necessitating the stage setup to remain in place.

Since the tragedy, numerous lawsuits have been filed, from the victims' families to concertgoers who also find themselves living with the trauma that came from the chaos. Lawyers for the victims and concert organizers have also asked to combine all the lawsuits into one.

WATCH | Astroworld Aftermath - what happened that night