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Lawsuit filed against venue organizers after WWU student dies at Houston music festival

Axel Acosta from Tieton, Washington died during a mass casualty event on Nov. 5.

HOUSTON, Texas — A 21-year-old Western Washington University student was among those killed at Travis Scott's concert at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas on Nov. 5, according to a law firm representing his family.

Axel Acosta, 21, was one of eight concert attendees who died, according to the Buzbee Law Firm, which said Monday it now represents more than 30 others who were injured in a lawsuit against the event organizers.

The law firm held a press conference Monday, in which attorney Tony Buzbee laid out the firm's case thus far and gave his summary of what happened to Tieton, Washington native Acosta. 

Though an investigation into the mass casualty incident continues, initial reports indicate a crowd surge occurred between 9:15-9:30 p.m. when Travis Scott was on stage. People began passing out because they couldn't breathe.

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"The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries," Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said that night. "People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic." 

Buzbee referred to the surge as "crowd rush," which he said happens when an extremely large and high-density crowd moves in one direction in a confined space. 

Buzbee said Acosta died before being trampled from compressive asphyxiation, which was caused by the weight of bodies on top of him, making it impossible for Acosta to breathe. 

“When he collapsed, concertgoers trying to avoid their own suffocation caused by the crowd rush trampled over his body like a piece of trash," Buzbee said.

Some festival-goers said they saw many people being shoved, others appearing to be exhausted and some struggling to get out of the crowd to find either water or medical attention. 

There are also videos circulating around social media of concertgoers becoming unconscious, being trampled and some mosh pits.

Approximately 300 people were treated for minor injuries at a pop-up hospital at the event. Another 25 were taken to local hospitals, with 11 experiencing cardiac arrest, according to the Houston Fire Department. Eight people were killed, the youngest was 14 years old.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Live Nation, the event promotor, and NRG Park, where the festival took place, are helping investigators with getting video of the event. Finner said the department is also investigating claims someone was injecting concertgoers with drugs.

As for Buzbee's lawsuit, the complaint has been filed against numerous entities including rapper Travis Scott and LiveNation, an event promoter and organizer. Buzbee said Monday these two defendants in particular have histories of creating unsafe events. 

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

Acosta's family said during the press conference that they first learned of his death through social media posts after being told he wasn't among those killed at the event. 

Acosta's father said that he hopes his lawsuit will prevent what happened at Astroworld from happening again. 

Travis Scott released a statement on Saturday promising support for the Houston Police Department and to work with the Houston community. 

"I'm absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," the statement reads in part.