Crowd control expert: Astroworld festival artist, events, promotion likely to be examined in investigation

Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As investigators start to get to the bottom of why the crowd surge started at the Houston Astroworld Festival, local festival producers and crowd control experts say these findings will be important especially as big events and festivals become more commonplace again.

Eight people were killed with ages ranging from 14 to 27. 13 concertgoers were hospitalized. Director of safety and security for the International Association of Venue Managers, Mark Herrera says investigators will be closely looking at why this happened.

“They’ll have to take a look to see if something was said by the artist or maybe they’ll take a look at lessons learned from the past what has the artist done in the past and has that ever happened before work route to get so agitated what is it that’s causing this crowd surge… you have to factor in and sprinkle in the fact that people are eager and excited to go to events because they’ve been shut down for so long,” said Herrera.

Herrera explained there are safety guidelines when hosting these kinds of events but he says crowd behavior can render those efforts less effective.

“Typically the NFPA, the National Fire Protection Association, typically what they recommend is one trained crowd manager for every 250 in attendance but we know that that’s not always the case with these large events. It’s going to be a challenge whenever you have something that creates mass panic to prevent the crowd density and the crowds from closing in and actually crashing or creating pinch points for people. If you have to ask the question does it look safe for me to go down there and join the crowd if you have to ask that question it’s probably a good idea not to,” said Herrera.

No stranger to big events in New Orleans, local independent festival producer Sig Greenebaum says safety constantly evolves and improves in the industry but he says at least in New Orleans, safety is priority.

“I think New Orleans has proven to be outstanding at crowd control over the years, and again everyone will continue to share information collaborate and work together to ensure safety and it’s all that everyone can do,” said Greenebaum.

Herrera says this crowd surge is also very timely in the industry, as they’re conducting safety training seminars across the country for venues about to host large events.

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