Houston officials pick internal review of Astroworld tragedy

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A man wears a t-shirt that reads “I hope you’re dancing in the sky” in memory of Astroworld victim Brianna Rodriguez who was known for being a dancer as family, friends and community members gathered at La Paz Memorial Funeral Home to remember Rodriguez, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Houston. Rodriguez died from injuries sustained during a stampede at the Astroworld music festival. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Calls for an independent investigation into whatled to 10 deaths at the Astroworld music festival went unheeded Monday, as Houston-area officials instead chose to direct a county administrator to conduct a review with other governmental entities.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo — the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston — had proposed a third-party probe of the planning and execution of the festival founded and headlined by rap superstar Travis Scott.

The Harris County administrator instead will work with other city and county entities to review security, fire and other safety plans at the county-owned NRG Park, where the festival was held.

“I hope that it comes back with actionable lessons,” Hidalgo said. “I hope it doesn’t result in something vague or forgotten.”

Other members of Harris County’s governing body, known as a commissioner’s court, were concerned Hidalgo’s investigation could lead to legal liabilities for the county.

Dozens of lawsuits have already been filed over injuries and deaths at the Nov. 5 concert.

Houston police are conducting a separate criminal investigation into what happened at the festival. No one has been charged.

The police department, along with the city fire department, played key roles in crowd control and other safety measures at the show. Experts in crowd safety say an investigation by neutral outsiders into the tragedy could help avoid potential conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

Police have said they are reviewing surveillance video provided by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips of the show shared on social media. Investigators also planned to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers.

Over 300 people were treated on site for injuries at the show, and at least 25 were hospitalized.

Many unanswered questions center on the actions of event organizers.

A 56-page event operations plan for the Astroworld music festival included protocols for dangerous scenarios including an active shooter, bomb or terrorist threats, and severe weather. But it did not include information on what to do in the event of a crowd surge.

The 10 people who died included a 9-year-old boy. The oldest was 27. Reports on individual causes of death are pending.

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