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‘I Want My Baby Back’: Texas College Student Becomes 9th Person To Die As The Result Of Astroworld Crowd Surge
"Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other," Bharti Shanani’s cousin said of the concert melee at the concert.
A Texas A&M University senior, who was the “backbone” of her family, has become the ninth person to die as a result of the crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival in Houston last week.
The family of Bharti Shanani announced Thursday that the 22-year-old died at Houston Methodist Hospital the night before as a result of the injuries she suffered during the Travis Scott concert on Nov. 5.
Shahani, who had been placed on a ventilator after the she was injured in the surging crowd, died of heart failure.
“You know what is love? Bharti is love,” her mother Karishma Shanani said through tears at a press conference to announce the death, according to ABC News. “What happened to my blessing? I want my baby back. I won’t be able to live without her.”
Shanani had gone to the concert last week with her sister, Namrata Shahani, and her cousin Mohit Bellani, according to local station KTRK.
The three women had been hoping for a night of fun, but the night took a tragic turn shortly after Scott took the stage and concert-goers began to push and shove.
"Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other," Bellani said during the press conference. "There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive."
Attorney James Lassiter said Shanani was “suffocated” and blamed the deaths on producers and Live Nation, who he said failed to provide adequate security or medical personnel and packed the crowd in without using barricades.
“This was 100% avoidable,” he said. “This was an act of pure brutality.”
Although she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, her family said she suffered multiple heart attacks and showed no brain activity before her death.
Shanani, who had been studying electronics systems engineering, had been planning to take over her family business after graduating in the spring.
"She was the backbone of the family," her father said, according to KTRK. "Saying, 'Daddy, don't worry about it, I'll help you out in the business once I'm done with my graduation.'"
Shanani’s death raises the death toll to nine, but the life of 9-year-old Ezra Blount also hangs in the balance.
In a press conference Friday morning, attorney Ben Crump said Blount remains on life support with damaged organs and a swollen brain after the young boy fell from his father’s shoulders during the concert, KTRK reports.
Ezra’s father, Treston Blount, who also spoke during the press conference, said the pair had tried to stay toward the back of the crowd but they were pushed by the crowd as soon as Scott took the stage and Treston was knocked unconscious.
When he regained consciousness, he couldn’t find his son and didn’t know what had happened to the boy until police later provided him with a photo of his son in the hospital.
“Just to see him in that condition … I wasn’t ready,” Treston said through tears.
The Astroworld Festival was declared a “mass casualty event” shortly after Scott took the stage, but in the days since the tragedy occurred, Scott has faced criticism for not stopping the concert.
“The artist has command of that crowd,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena told NBC’s “Today” earlier this week. “In my opinion, and this is my opinion right now because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly, the artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say ‘Hey we’re not going to continue until this thing is resolved.’”
However, Scott’s spokesperson, former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, told “CBS Mornings” on Friday that Scott never realized the tragedy had occurred and said that when Scott later went to an after-party that night at Dave and Busters he had been trying to “regroup” with his team.
“They were trying to figure out what was going on. It was hours and hours after the concert when they actually found out the tragedy, how the tragedy unfolded,” she said. “And he has not stopped grieving for these families.”
She also shot down the idea that Scott could have halted the festival himself, calling the suggestion “ludicrous.”
"They have a 59-page operations plan, and it clearly says the only two people that are, have the authority to stop the concert, were the executive producer and the concert producer,” she said. “He was not responsible for this, but he wants to be responsible for the solution.”
Shanani’s family is now just pleading for justice and is hoping to find answers about how the tragedy occurred.
“I don’t want somebody else’s daughter to go like this,” her father said, according to ABC News.