Ex-reporter describes crowd-crushing concert at tragic Salt Palace show

Nov 9, 2021, 12:30 PM
A lawsuit has been filed against the Astroworld Festival that killed ten people.  (AP Photo/Robert ...
A lawsuit has been filed against the Astroworld Festival that killed ten people. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)
(AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

SALT LAKE CITY — After a deadly weekend concert in Houston, a former reporter recounts his terrifying experience as a surging crowd crushed him at a concert in Salt Lake City many years ago.

Eight people were killed and more than 300 injured during a concert Friday at the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston, TX.

Jim Ryan of ABC News reported from Dallas. He told KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega there were no seats at the Houston concert, which was held in a parking lot at NRG Park, where the Houston Texans have played their home games since their founding in 2002.

The crowd kept pushing to get closer to the stage, Ryan said.

Rapper Travis Scott, the headliner of the festival who also acted as an event organizer, announced Monday that he will cover all funeral costs, according to CNN.

Before the show even began, a stampede broke through barricades and gates on festival grounds, according to ABC 13 in Houston. CNN reported 50,000 people were at the sold-out Astroworld Festival.

Tragedy strikes SLC

Three people were killed during a crowd surge at an AC/DC concert at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Jan. 18, 1991. Paul Murphy, a former KTVX reporter who was at that concert, said the show was a general-admission event with no assigned seating.

. . . and Cincinnati

In 1979 in Cincinnati, 11 fans were trampled to death at a concert by The Who. More than 14,000 first-come, first-served festival-seating tickets had been sold for The Who concert, according to Cincinnati Enquirer.

Murphy said he attended The Who concert in Salt Lake City in 1980, 4½ months after the tragedy in Cincinnati. He said the crowd surged, and he had no place to move.

“I was up against the barrier right before the stage, and the crowd just kept pushing and pushing,” he said. “I finally had to just put my arms against the thing and just push back and push back.”

Murphy said it’s not just at concerts where crowds can be dangerous or even deadly. He described covering the Christmas lights being turned on during the holiday season at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

“I was surrounded by tens of thousands of people, and I just I couldn’t move,” he said. “Any type of a situation where you have a huge crowd of people surrounding you, you potentially can be in danger.”


Mourning starts as Houston officials probe concert deaths

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Ex-reporter describes crowd-crushing concert at tragic Salt Palace show