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9-year-old boy dies from injuries suffered at Houston music festival

Ezra Blount is the 10th victim of rapper Travis Scott's headliner show at the Astroworld music festival. Eight of the others died at the scene.

HOUSTON (CN) – A 9-year-old boy died Sunday after falling into a coma from injuries he sustained at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, becoming the 10th and youngest victim of the festival headliner Travis Scott’s overpacked concert.

Ezra Blount, who idolized the rapper, attended the festival at NRG Park in Houston with his father. The Blounts were among a crowd of 50,000 people who became dangerously compacted when fans in the back pressed forward to get closer to the stage as Scott started his show Nov. 5 around 8:30 p.m.

As concertgoers struggled to breathe, passed out and fell among the throng, with their bodies jammed so tightly people who lifted their arms could not lower them, Blount’s father, Treston Blount, lifted him on his shoulders.

But Treston passed out and when he awoke Ezra was gone. The boy was taken by ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, suffering from heart, lung and kidney damage. Doctors put him in a medically induced coma after his brain swelled and he went into cardiac arrest.

“I am saddened to learn of Ezra’s death this evening,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement Sunday. “Our city tonight prays for his mom, dad, grandparents, other family members and classmates at this time. They will need all of our support in the months and years to come. May God give them strength.”

Blount, who lived in Dallas with his mother, is the 10th victim of the concert. Eight of the victims, ages 9 to 27, died at the scene.

Bharti Shahani, 22, died in the hospital Nov. 10 from injuries she suffered at the concert after she got separated from her cousin and sister.

"Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominoes. … 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,” Shahani’s cousin Mohit Bellani told KTRK, Houston’s ABC affiliate.

Treston Blount said in a GoFundMe online fundraiser he launched Nov. 11 for Ezra’s hospital bills that he had Ezra on his shoulders and they were waiting for the rapper Drake to go on stage with Scott.

“I began to be crushed until I couldn’t breathe I passed out. And I woke up and my son was gone,” Treston wrote for the fundraiser, which had raised more than $85,000 as of Monday morning.

Scott – whose real name is Jacques Webster Jr. – his label Cactus Jack Records LLC and the festival organizer Live Nation are defendants in a lawsuit Treston has filed in Harris County District Court in Houston, one of more than 90 lawsuits filed by the families of other Astroworld victims and people injured at the show.

The deaths have shined an unflattering light on Scott and his history of arrests for encouraging his fans to jump security barriers at his shows.

Scott, 30, calls his fans “ragers” and encourages them to form mosh pits during his concerts.

He has said he wants his shows, in which he regularly brings fans up on the stage with him to dive into the crowds, to resemble WWE matches because he was a big wrestling fan as a child.

Scott, who has promised to pay for the funerals of all the Astroworld victims, is facing criticism for not stopping the show as concertgoers fell to the ground and screamed for help.

But his attorneys claim he didn’t know about the deaths or injuries until after the show. And he did repeatedly stop rapping and urged security to help people who had passed out in the crowd.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said last week the investigation into what went wrong at the festival, which Scott started in 2018 as an homage to a Houston theme park that closed in 2005, will take months and rebuffed calls to hand over the probe to an independent third party.  

More than 500 Houston police were working security at the show as the tragedy unfolded, and Finner reportedly told Scott and the rapper’s security chief he was concerned about the size of the crowd hours before Scott went on stage.

Scott, who grew up in the Houston suburb Missouri City, has been hailed as a hometown hero by Houston's mayor. Turner gave Scott a key to the city during a February 2019 show and said, “Because of him we want to bring another amusement theme park back to Houston.”

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