• The San Juan Daily Star

Astroworld victims include high schoolers and a college student

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addresses media during a press conference in Houston, on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

By Giulia Heyward

Excitement and adrenaline soon turned to panic and horror as a crowd of 50,000 descended into chaos at the Astroworld music festival in Houston on Friday night. Unconscious bodies were lifted and surfed through the crowd, while other attendees begged for the concert to stop as they watched others around them collapse.

Hundreds of people, including a 10-year-old child, suffered injuries. Some were rushed from the NRG Park in Houston, where the festival took place, to hospitals. By Saturday afternoon, Houston’s mayor confirmed that 13 victims remain hospitalized, including five minors.

And eight people, ranging in age from 14 to 27, with one age unknown, were dead. Here is what we know about some of the lives that were lost.

Franco Patino

Franco Patino, 21, a senior at the University of Dayton in Ohio, was among those who died at the music festival, the university and one of Patino’s brothers confirmed.

Patino, who was from Naperville, Illinois, was majoring in mechanical engineering technology with a minor in human movement biomechanics, the university said in a campuswide email Saturday. Patino was a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity, the university said.

A brother, Julio Patino Jr., said his younger brother was planning to pursue a career in biomedical engineering and had a particular interest in prosthetics. Julio Patino Jr. said his brother was active in volunteer work and regularly sought to help others.

“He was just that type of person,” he said. “He was always there for the people he cared about. He had a big heart.”

He described his brother as an avid video game player (“Call of Duty” was a favorite) who competed in football, rugby and wrestling in high school. He said his brother had been to other concerts without incident but that this was his first time attending the Astroworld festival.

“This should have never happened,” Julio Patino Jr. said of the deaths at the music festival. “There should be more rules in place to prevent this in the future. They should have stopped the concert right away as soon as all this started happening.”

John Hilgert

Green ribbons appeared at Memorial High School, just outside of Houston. It was the favorite color of John Hilgert, 14, a freshman, who was the youngest person to die at Astroworld, according to authorities.

He told friends that he wanted to get to the performance by rapper Travis Scott early to get a good view, The Houston Chronicle reported. Now, family members, friends and former coaches were left to make sense of his death. On social media, those who knew Hilgert told similar stories of a young, kind boy who was known for being a good student and an athlete who played baseball and football.

“The kid impacted everyone that met him,” Justin Higgs, a former baseball coach of Hilgert, wrote on Facebook. “Privileged to have had the opportunity to coach him during those seasons of his life.”

Hilgert’s principal, Lisa Weir, sent an email to the entire school the morning after the concert, identifying Hilgert as one of the victims. The school will have counselors available to talk to students.

“He was one of the nicest kids I knew and always made people laugh,” a friend tweeted.

Brianna Rodriguez

Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a student at Heights High School in Houston and was a drill dancer as part of the band program, which paid tribute to her Saturday on Twitter.

“Brianna was someone who performed with the band and was someone who could always make anyone smile,” the band said. “Although she’s gone and she cannot perform with us anymore, we know she’d want to still enjoy our time in heights.”

In an automated phone call Saturday to parents, the school’s principal, Wendy L. Hampton, said that a student had died Friday night while off campus and that grief counselors would be available. The call did not identify the student.

On a GoFundMe page raising money for funeral expenses, Rodriguez’s family said that she was passionate about dancing.

On Sunday, Erica Davis, a trustee for the Harris County Department of Education, shared photos of Rodriguez on Twitter.

“There is no level above Tragedy … my heart mourns for families and all who experienced this,” Davis said.

Rudy Peña

Rudy Peña was identified by a cousin, Kimberly Escamilla, as being one of the victims. “Rip to my cousin,” she wrote in a Facebook post, “you will be missed.” She described him as “always smiling and so nice.”

His sister, Jennifer Peña, told The Laredo Morning Times that he was “the sweetest person, friendly, outgoing.” She said that Peña had been taken to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, where staff members told Peña’s mother that he had died.

Danish Baig

The brother of Danish Baig described him in a Facebook post as a “beautiful soul” who put “everyone before himself.”

“I am scarred for life,” said the brother, Basil Mirza Baig. “You were my role model, and I have so much pain in my heart. I can’t believe I lost you.”

Basil Baig, who attended the festival, said his brother died as he tried to save a sister-in-law from “horrendous things that were being done.” People were “trampled, walked and stomped on,” he wrote.

“In this time of mourning and grief and such pain, I would like everyone to pray for my family and my brother,” he wrote.

Jacob E. Jurinek

His younger cousins called him “Big Jake.”

The nickname suited Jacob E. Jurinek, 20, well, his family said in a statement, because the young man with many friends and a “larger-than-life personality” was known for his “contagious enthusiasm, his boundless energy and his unwavering positive attitude.”

Jurinek was a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he was studying art and media and was on the dean’s list this semester. The chancellor of the school, Austin A. Lane, described him in a statement as “a creative, intelligent young man with a promising career in journalism and advertising.”

Jurinek graduated in 2019 from Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois, about 30 miles west of Chicago.

At the university, he worked as a graphic arts and media intern for the athletic department, his family said. He was a music fan, an artist and a “beloved cousin, nephew and grandson,” the family said.

His father, Ron Jurinek, said he would most remember his son as his “best friend.”

The father and son were brought closer by a previous loss, the death of Jacob’s mother, Alison, in 2011. Since then, they have been inseparable, and attended Chicago White Sox and Chicago Blackhawks games together and spent weekends at a family cottage in Southwestern Michigan, the family said.

“We are all devastated and are left with a huge hole in our lives,” Ron Jurinek said.

Axel Acosta

Axel Acosta, 21, was identified Sunday by his brother, Joel Acosta, as the man in a photograph circulated by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Texas, which was seeking the public’s help to identify the man.

Axel Acosta was a junior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, where he was majoring in computer science, his younger brother said Sunday.

Axel Acosta was a fan of Scott, but had never been to one of his concerts before, said Joel Acosta, 19, who recalled driving his brother to the airport in Bellingham last Wednesday. From there, Axel Acosta rented a car and drove about 90 miles south to Seattle before flying to Houston for the music festival, his brother said.

“He finally had the money to go,” Joel Acosta said. “He was excited to go.”

Axel Acosta was from Tieton, Washington, a community of fewer than 2,000 people in the Yakima Valley.

When Joel Acosta did not hear from his brother Friday night, he said he figured that his brother was just having a fun time at the festival. “He said that reception was spotty and the internet was really bad,” Joel Acosta said.

During the concert, Axel Acosta got separated from a person he had been rooming with at a local hotel, his brother said.

“The roommate had called me that he had not seen Axel come to sleep that night,” Joel Acosta said.

That’s when Joel Acosta said that he began to worry that his brother might have been among the people who died. His fears were confirmed, he said, when the authorities released a photo of his brother Saturday.

Joel Acosta said he stopped looking at TikTok and other social media posts from the concert.

“Now, I can’t look at the videos anymore,” he said.

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