HOUSTON — Eight people died after a crowd of nearly 50,000 people surged toward the main stage of the Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston on Friday night.
Tributes from the victims’ friends and families flooded social media throughout the weekend - eulogizing lost sons, daughters, siblings and students - but authorities did not formally identify the eight people killed until Monday.
The dead, who ranged in age from 14 to 27, hailed from Texas, Illinois and Washington and included high schoolers, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student. Harris County authorities on Monday confirmed only the following details about the victims:
- Axel Acosta, 21, of Washington
- Danish Baig, 27, of Houston
- Madison Dubiski, 23, of Cypress, Texas
- John Hilgert, 14, of Houston
- Jacob Jurinke, 20, of Illinois
- Franco Patiño, 21, of Illinois
- Rodolfo Peña, 23, of Laredo, Texas
- Brianna Rodriguez, 16, of Houston
Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, confirmed to The Associated Press that the victims’ official causes of death have not been released and could take several weeks to determine.
By Monday afternoon, 13 of the hundreds injured during the chaotic surge remained hospitalized, and more than a dozen lawsuits had been filed against rapper and festival founder Travis Scott, who was performing when the stampede erupted, as well as concert promoter Live Nation.
Here’s what we know about the eight people killed:
Edgar Acosta confirmed to KTRK that his son, Axel Acosta, was among the victims who died at the festival.
Edgar Acosta said that his son had just turned 21 last month and was studying computer science at Western Washington University. His aunt, Cynthia Acosta, confirmed that Axel Acosta Avila made the trek to Houston alone.
“It was his first time going to an event like that,” Cynthia Acosta told KTRK.
Western Washington University in Bellingham issued the following statement on Sunday:
“By all accounts, Axel was a young man with a vibrant future. We are sending our condolences to his family on this very sad day.”
Meanwhile, his sister, Angel Acosta, tweeted late Sunday that the family is “trying to put together the pieces” but “this is draining and unbelievable.”
The brother of Danish Baig described him in a Facebook post as a “beautiful soul” who put “everyone before himself.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, 27-year-old Danish Baig was trying to protect a woman when he was fatally injured.
“I lost my brother,” Basil Baig told the newspaper, noting that the brothers drove from Dallas to attend the Astroworld Festival. “He was trying to save our sister from the stampede.”
Basil Baig explained that the brothers, who had been standing together, became separated and that their phones fell to the ground in the chaos, rendering them unable to communicate.
First responders rushed Danish Baig to a hospital, but he died in the ambulance, the brother said.
“My brother tried to save my sister-in-law from these horrendous acts that were being done to her in the process he lost his life,” Basil Baig wrote in his Facebook post.
“I am scarred for life. You were my role model, and I have so much pain in my heart. I can’t believe I lost you,” he added.
Madison Dubiski, 23, attended the Astroworld Festival with her brother, Ty Dubiski, but the pair became separated during Scott’s performance, and Ty Dubiski never saw his sister again, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A Cypress, Texas, native, Madison Dubiski graduated from Cypress Fair High School before later attending the University of Mississippi, according to her Facebook page.
Ole Miss issued the following statement to WHBQ:
“We were very saddened to hear about Madison. Related to your inquiry about her student status, we can confirm that she is not a current student or a graduate and was only enrolled at the University of Mississippi during 2016–17 academic year.”
Madison Dubiski, who lived in Houston and whose friends called her “pure sunshine,” worked for an advertising agency, KHOU reported.
John Hilgert, a ninth-grade student at Memorial High School in Houston, died during the incident, KTRK-TV reported, citing a letter school administrators sent Saturday to parents and students.
He was 14, and the youngest of the stampede’s eight victims.
“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 (Memorial High School) family is grieving today,” the letter, obtained by KPRC-TV, stated.
“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” Tracy Faulkner, whose 15-year-old son attended the concert with Hilgert, told the Houston Chronicle. “John was a good student and athlete and was so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.
“They were both in the same place at the same time and one came home and one we will never see,” Faulkner told the newspaper.
On social media, those who knew Hilgert shared stories of a “young, kind boy who was known for being a good student and an athlete who played baseball and football,” The New York Times reported.
“The kid impacted everyone that met him,” Justin Higgs, a former baseball coach of Mr. Hilgert, wrote on Facebook. “Privileged to have had the opportunity to coach him during those seasons of his life.”
“He was one of the nicest kids I knew and always made people laugh,” a friend tweeted.
Jacob Jurinek, who would have turned 21 on Nov. 20, bought the Astroworld Festival tickets six months ago to honor the occasion and traveled to Houston with his best friend, Franco Patino, who also died at the chaotic scene, Ronald Jurinek told The Washington Post.
“Him and I were just best buddies,” Ronald Jurinek told the newspaper, confirming that his son had been a junior at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he was studying art and media.
According to his father, Jacob Jurinek enjoyed Marvel movies, pro wrestling and rooting for his home teams, the Chicago Blackhawks, White Sox and Bears, the newspaper reported.
“Every conversation we had always ended in ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing we said to each other,” Ronald Jurinek said.
In a statement issued by the family, Jacob Jurinek had a “larger-than-life personality” and was known for his “contagious enthusiasm, his boundless energy and his unwavering positive attitude,” The New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, Auston Lane, chancellor of Southern Illinois University, described the Dean’s List student in a prepared statement as a “creative, intelligent young man with a promising career in journalism and advertising.”
The University of Dayton confirmed Saturday evening that a student was killed while attending a concert in Houston, Texas, but the school stopped short of identifying the Astroworld Festival as the venue, WHIO reported.
In a news release the university identified the student as 21-year-old Franco Patiño, a senior from Naperville, Illinois, who died Friday. Patiño was a mechanical engineering technology major with a minor in human movement biomechanics, the university confirmed.
Patiño was also a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity, as well as the university’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. He was currently working in an engineering co-op program in Mason, Ohio, the news release stated.
A brother, Julio Patiño Jr., told The New York Times that his younger brother was planning to pursue a career in biomedical engineering and had a particular interest in prosthetics. The elder Patiño also said that his brother was active in volunteer work and regularly sought to help others.
“He was just that type of person,” Julio Patiño Jr. said. “He was always there for the people he cared about. He had a big heart.”
He described his brother as an avid gamer, who loved “Call of Duty” and competed in football, rugby and wrestling in high school.
Family members confirmed to a Laredo media outlet on Saturday that Rudy Peña was one of the eight victims.
“My brother was the sweetest person, friendly, outgoing. He had many friends because he was always there for everyone,” Jennifer Peña told the newspaper, adding. “Yes, he was a big fan of Travis (Scott). He loved (Scott’s) music.”
A family member confirmed to KTRK that 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez also died at the concert. According to her aunt, Rodriguez was a junior at Heights High School in Houston.
Family members also posted a tribute to Rodriguez on Facebook.
“Gone from our sites (sic), but never from our hearts,” her family posted. “It is with profound sadness we lay to rest our beloved Brianna Rodriguez. She was a beautiful vibrant 16-year-old high school junior at Heights High School in Houston, Texas. Dancing was her passion and now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates.”
According to The New York Times, Rodriguez was a drill dancer as part of the high school’s band program, which paid tribute to her on Saturday on Twitter.
“Brianna was someone who performed with the band and was someone who could always make anyone smile,” the band wrote. “Although she’s gone and she cannot perform with us anymore, we know she’d want to still enjoy our time in heights.”
On Sunday, Erica Davis, a trustee for the Harris County Department of Education, shared photos of Rodriguez on Twitter.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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