Astroworld victim Axel Acosta suffocated, was trampled ‘like a piece of trash’ amid crowd panic: lawyer

A 21-year-old who was killed during Travis Scott’s deadly Astroworld show in Houston was suffocated by a “river of people” and then “trampled over … like a piece of trash,” an attorney representing his family said during a news conference Monday. 

Lawyer Tony Buzbee said the family of Axel Acosta, one of eight people who died during a crowd surge at the ill-fated concert, along with at least 35 others will file suit against Scott, Live Nation and other parties involved with planning and managing the event, alleging their “gross negligence” led to the loss of life and hundreds of injuries

“The air was literally slowly squeezed out of him,” Buzbee told reporters of the computer engineering student. 

“When he collapsed, concert goers trying to escape their own suffocation caused by the crowd rush trampled over his body like a piece of trash. When emergency care givers finally removed Axel from the thick of human mass, he lay lifeless on the wet, littered grass at the edge of the chaos.

Photo of late Axel Acosta who passed in the crowd of Astroworld.
Axel Acosta, a 21-year-old computer science major at Western Washington University, had traveled alone to Astroworld to see Travis Scott for the first time.
Family handout
Photo shows Travis Scott performing on stage.
The lawyer representing the late Axel Acosta pointed to past issues at Scott’s concerts where the megastar was arrested for encouraging the crowd to storm past barriers.
Getty Images / Rick Kern
Photo shows festival goers in crowd at Astroworld.
Over 50,000 people were in attendance at Travis Scott’s Astroworld.
AP / Jamaal Ellis

“Axel died on the muddy ground of a concert that he attended for fun.” 

Buzbee said the “immense force of the unruly and out-of-control crowd, created by the defendants’ gross negligence” created a phenomenon known as “crowd rush” that left Acosta unable to breathe and in cardiac arrest. 

“Crowd rush occurs when you have an extremely large and high-density crowd moving in one direction in a confined space. People involved in a crowd rush get carried by a river of people, uncontrollably,” Buzbee explained. 

“Importantly, people that have been involved in crowd rush typically do not die from being trampled. They die from what is known as compression asphyxiation, from the sheer force of all of the weight of the bodies being stacked on top of them. 

“This is exactly what happened to Axel.” 

Photo shows Acosta family and the lawyer representing the family sitting at table addressing media.
Acosta’s family said they began to worry about him when the person he was rooming with in a hotel called to say he hadn’t returned Friday night and his phone was located at lost and found.
REUTERS / Callaghan O’Hare

Buzbee said it’s “self-evident” that the concert was poorly planned with not enough medical or security personnel to intervene in the event of an emergency and pointed to past issues at Scott’s concerts where the megastar was arrested for encouraging the crowd to storm past barriers. 

He plans to file his lawsuit in the coming days and hopes the litigation will “change the way concerts are put on, organized, promoted and managed in the US and the world.”

Still caught from social media video of the crowd at Travis Scott's Astroworld.
One festival goer called Astroworld “a fight for survival.”

“The history of how concerts are handled is a history of disinterest and greed. I think that’s what we have here,” Buzbee said. 

“Our goal is to make sure this good, decent, solid young man did not die for nothing.” 

Edgar Acosta, Axel’s father, said his son was extremely hard working and devoted to providing for his family. 

“Today it’s me, I lost my son,” the heartbroken dad said. 

“It could’ve been you.”