NATIONAL NEWS

Aspiring border agent, dancer, engineer among concert dead

Nov 7, 2021, 9:52 PM | Updated: 9:53 pm
Letters of memorial are seen outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park on November 7,...
Letters of memorial are seen outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park on November 7, 2021 in Houston, Texas. According to authorities, eight people died and 17 people were transported to local hospitals after what was described as a crowd surge at the Astroworld festival, a music festival started by Houston-native rapper and musician Travis Scott in 2018. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

(AP) — A teen who loved dancing. An aspiring Border Patrol agent. A computer science student. An engineering student working on a medical device to help his ailing mother. And his friend and high school football teammate.

Clearer pictures began to emerge Sunday of some of the eight people who died after fans at the Astroworld music festival in Houston suddenly surged toward the stage during a performance by rapper Travis Scott.

Authorities said Sunday they wouldn’t release the names of the dead, but family members and friends shared accounts of their loved ones with journalists and through social media. Mary Benton, a spokeswoman in Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office, said identities were expected to be made public on Monday.

The dead ranged from 14 to 27 years old, according to Houston officials. As of Sunday, 13 people remained hospitalized.

City officials said they were in the early stages of investigating what caused the pandemonium at the sold-out event founded by Scott. About 50,000 people were there.

Experts who have studied deaths caused by crowd surges say they are often a result of density — too many people packed into a small space. The crowd is often either running away from a perceived threat or toward something, such as a performer, before hitting a barrier.

‘LOVED HIS MOM’

Franco Patino, 21, was working toward a mechanical engineering technology degree at the University of Dayton, with a minor in human movement biomechanics, his father, Julio Patino, said in an interview. He was a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and was working in an engineering co-op program.

Patino described his son as a charismatic, energetic leader who was active in his community and intent on helping people with disabilities.

He said his son was working with a team on a new medical device, and that he wanted to find a way to help his mother walk again after she was severely injured in an automobile accident in Mexico two years ago.

Through tears, Patino described how his son — who enjoyed weight lifting, football and rugby — used his strength to break a door and free his mom from the wreckage.

“He loved his mom,” Patino said. “He said everything that he was doing, it was trying to help his mom. The entire goal.”

Julio Patino, of Naperville, Illinois, was in London on business when the phone rang around 3 a.m. He answered it and heard his wife, Teresita, crying. She said someone had called from a hospital about their 21-year-old son, Franco, and that a doctor would be calling her soon. About 30 minutes, she called back with the doctor on the line.

“The doctor was giving us the news that our son had passed away,” Patino said.

Patino said he had last spoken with his son about 2 p.m. Friday. Franco told his dad that there weren’t a lot a people at the festival site yet

“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” Patino recalled his son saying. “I just said, ‘Ok, just be careful.‘”

‘HUGE HOLE IN OUR LIVES’

Jacob “Jake” Jurinek, 20, was a junior at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where he was “pursuing his passion for art and media,” his family said in a statement Sunday. He was just a over two weeks short of his 21st birthday.

He was attending the concert with Patino, his friend and former high school football teammate, according to Patino’s father Julio Patino. He was deeply committed to his family and was known as “Big Jake” by his younger cousins.

He will be missed by his father, Ron Jurinek, with whom Jake became especially close after Jake’s mother died in 2011.

“In the decade since, Jake and Ron were inseparable – attending White Sox and Blackhawks games, sharing their love of professional wrestling, and spending weekends with extended family and friends at Jake’s favorite place, the family cottage in Southwestern Michigan,” the family’s statement said.

“We are all devastated and are left with a huge hole in our lives,” his father, Ron Jurinek, added in an emailed statement.

‘HARD-WORKING MAN’

Danish Baig, who identified himself on Facebook as a district manager for AT&T, and appeared to be a devoted Dallas Cowboys fan, was among those who died at the the concert, his brother Basil Baig said on Facebook.

“He was (an) innocent young soul who would always put others before him. He was a hard-working man who loved his family and took care of us. He was there in a heartbeat for anything. He always had a solution to everything,” Basil Baig told ABC News.

A funeral for Danish Baig is expected to be held on Sunday in Colleyville in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, his brother said. Messages left with Basil Baig were not returned.

LOVED TO DANCE

Brianna Rodriguez’s family told People magazine that she was among those who perished at the concert. She was 16, a student at Heights High School and loved dancing, according to the family the magazine spoke with. A message left with the family was not immediately answered.

COMPUTER SCIENCE STUDENT

Axel Acosta, 21, was a computer science major at Western Washington University. His father, Edgar Acosta, told KOMO-TV his son was among the victims who died at the festival.

The school in Bellingham, Washington, released a statement Sunday: “By all accounts, Axel was a young man with a vibrant future. We are sending our condolences to his family on this very sad day.”

ASPIRING BORDER AGENT

Rudy Pena, of Laredo, Texas, was a student at Laredo College and wanted to be Border Patrol agent, his friend Stacey Sarmiento said. She described him as a people person.

“Rudy was a close friend of mine,” she said. “We met in high school. He was an athlete… He brought happiness anywhere he went. He was easy to get along with. It was like positive vibes from him at all times.”

“We all came to have a good time … it was just horrible in there,” she added.

___

Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report. Chase reported from Dover, Delaware. Catalini reported from Trenton, New Jersey.

___

This story has been updated to correct the name of the mayor’s spokeswoman to Mary Benton, not Barton.

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Aspiring border agent, dancer, engineer among concert dead