8 young lives were cut short in chaos at Astroworld festival



They were the lights in their parents’ eyes: bright, young, and eagerly anticipating a future of achievement and a life of memories. They prepared weddings and worked careers as engineers, computer programmers, and border patrol officers.

On Friday evening, these eight young people stopped to enjoy music and friends with wanted tickets to the Astroworld festival, where shortly after 9:30 p.m., they were swallowed by a crowd of 50,000 people.

In what seemed like an instant, eight young lives were lost, including a dancer, two friends about to celebrate their 21st birthday, and a club baseball player who just started high school.

They have come with friends from all over town and on solo trips from the Pacific Northwest. Now their lives are tied in with tragedy.

Brianna Rodriguez, a 16-year-old high school student in Heights, loved dancing more than anything.

Brianna performed with the Heights Dance Team, and the school band wrote on Twitter that she was someone “who could always make anyone smile.”

“You were the light of this house. Your music, your dancing and above all your volume, “wrote her father, Osvaldo Rodriguez, boxing trainer at Rocky’s Boxing Gym, on social media.” RIP my little girl. Dad will see you soon.

The Rodriguez family created a GoFundMe page, which raised over $ 45,000 for funeral expenses. The page was started by Iris Rodriguez, a relative, who wrote: “Dancing was her passion and now she dances her way to the pearly gates of heaven.”

In a message to parents, Heights High School principal Wendy Hampton admitted that a student she did not identify died off campus on Friday and that counselors would be available for mourners .

“These are terribly difficult times for our school community,” she wrote.

The tragedy at the Astroworld festival

Sneak into the crowd

Madison Dubiski, 23, was pure sunshine, her friends said.

“She was super bright, uplifting and just a sweet handyman girl,” said Lauren Vogler, a former classmate at Cy-Fair High School. “I applauded with her when we were younger, and she was always very encouraging. She was definitely the life of the party and loved by so many people.

Madison, who graduated in 2017, was a college cheerleader and a member of the National Charity League, a community service organization.

Madison Dubiski, 23, was a member of the National Charity League.

Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

Her mother was her best friend and Madison “was her brother’s biggest fan in any sport he participated in,” said Claudia Sierra, a friend of the family.

She loved the color pink and the Astros. Madison attended the University of Mississippi and worked in advertising and marketing.

Madison and her younger brother, Ty Dubiski – a 2019 Cy-Fair High graduate – attended the Astroworld festival together.

During headliner Travis Scott’s performance, the siblings went their separate ways. Holding his sister’s hand, Ty tried to get Madison to safety.

But their grip slipped and she disappeared into the crowd, according to friends’ social media posts.

‘So much pain in my heart’

Danish Baig, 27, represented the world to his younger brother, Basil Mirza Baig. He was her role model and her best friend.

They were only two years apart and they were doing things the brothers do, watching football and sharing laughs. They also drove, along with Danish fiancée Olivia Swingle from Dallas to see Scott perform at the Astroworld Festival.

The three stood together for a while. The next day, the crowd overwhelmed them. Basil tried to call his brother and Swingle, but their phones were knocked over.

The Danish Baig, 27, was a victim of the Astroworld festival.

The Danish Baig, 27, was a victim of the Astroworld festival.

Courtesy / Courtesy

“I couldn’t help it,” Basil said. “I was there and I couldn’t help him.

Danes died in an ambulance on the way to hospital, his brother said.

“My heart hurts so much,” said Basil, 25. “He was everything to me.”

Danish and Swingle had planned a big wedding in Dallas early next year, Basil said.

Far from home

Franco Patino, 21, traveled with a high school friend from Naperville, Ill., To attend the festival.

Julio Patino described his son as a charismatic and energetic leader, active in his community and determined to help people with disabilities. Through tears, Patino described how his son – who loved weightlifting, football and rugby – used his strength to smash a door and free his mother from the wreckage of a car crash two years ago. years in Mexico.

He said his son was working with a team on a new medical device and wanted to find a way to help his mother walk again after her injuries from the wreckage.

Franco Patin

Franco Patin

Provided by the University of Dayton, courtesy of the Patino family

“He loved his mother,” Patino said. “He said everything he did, he was trying to help his mother – the whole goal.”

Franco was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Dayton in Ohio and was pursuing a minor in biomechanics of human movement, according to an email sent by school officials to the student body.

He was heavily involved in extracurricular activities, as treasurer of the school’s Multicultural Greek Council and as a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, a fraternity of Latin interest.

Franco was known in the mixed fraternity as “Cuauhocelotl”, an Aztec warrior of the first order.

Bigger than life

Jacob “Jack” Jurinek was 15 days younger than 21 Friday night and stood next to Patino, one of his best friends who grew up in Naperville.

He quickly befriended two young women at the concert, the most recent presentations of a life largely defined by friendship.

“We take comfort in the fact that the hundreds of people Jake has touched over the years will carry a piece of his mind with them,” his father, Ron, said in a statement.

His cousin called him “Big Jake,” something his father wrote that embodied his larger-than-life personality – full screen cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks or the Chicago White Sox.

“We are all devastated and we end up with a huge hole in our lives,” Ron Jurinek said of his son.

Jurinek was a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“Jacob was a creative and intelligent young man with a promising career in journalism and advertising,” said Austin Lane, chancellor of Southern Illinois and former president of Texas Southern University.

The sweetest person

Rudy Pena, 23, dreamed of making the world a safer place.

The Laredo College student had studied criminology but was taking a break before returning to school to fulfill his goal of becoming a border patrol agent.

“My brother was the nicest, friendliest, outgoing person. He had a lot of friends because he was always there for everyone, ”said his sister, Jennifer Pena.

Stacey Sarmiento said Pena made everyone smile.

“He brought happiness wherever he went,” Sarmiento said. “It was easy to get along with him. It was like positive vibes from her all the time.

The family – Rudy was the youngest of five children – found out he was part of the tragedy around midnight.

Desperate for information

Axel Acosta, 21, traveled alone from Tieton, Washington, to enjoy the show. It was the first big solo trip for Acosta, who was passing through Antonio, according to his aunt, Cynthia Acosta.

The 21-year-old was a computer programming student at Western Washington University.

Axel Acosta, 21, had traveled alone from Tieton, Washington, to attend the show.

Axel Acosta, 21, had traveled alone from Tieton, Washington, to attend the show.

Courtesy of Edgar Acosta / Courtesy of Edgar Acosta

Her family were quick to respond to the loss, unable to easily navigate the process from out of state. Acosta’s phone was lost in the fray.

Edgar Acosta, Axel’s father, and his aunt were traveling to Houston on Sunday night to meet with their lawyer, Chris Leavitt of law firm Buzbee.

“We come to Houston because we have to be close to Axel,” said Cynthia Acosta. “It shouldn’t have happened. Axel went to the concert for fun. We didn’t know it wasn’t safe. We need to find out what happened and ask that if anyone has any information, please contact our lawyer. “

The loss was also felt on campus.

“Axel was a young man with a bright future,” said Melynda Huskey, vice president of enrollment and student services at Western Washington University.

“One came home”

John Hilgert texted a classmate on Friday morning asking him to get to NRG Park early for the Astroworld festival.

The 14-year-old Memorial High School freshman was hoping for a prime location to watch the artists. John and his classmate Robby Hendrix, 15, grew up in the Memorial neighborhood and played on a youth football team together.

They went to the concert separately with other friends. Robby went home. Jean did not.

“Everything about that night was a tragedy,” said Tracy Faulkner, Robby’s mother who had known John from childhood. “John was a good student and athlete and very polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man.

John, who was 6 feet tall, also played on a select baseball team.

“They were both in the same place at the same time and one came home and the other that we’ll never see,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner bought his son tickets to the concert for his birthday. “I thought it was like a big rodeo. But now, as a parent, I ask myself, “What was I thinking? “

This story was written and reported by Dug Begley, Amber Elliott, Joy Sewing, Samantha Ketterer, Sam Gonzalez Kelly, Alejandro Serrano, Marcy de Luna, Jorge A. Vela and Associated Press.


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