The House Committee on Oversight and Reform said on Wednesday that it would investigate the deaths of 10 people who were caught in a surging, stampeding crowd at a concert in November in Houston.
The leaders of the panel said that they had sent a letter about the investigation to Live Nation Entertainment Inc., which organized the concert — the Astroworld Festival at NRG Park — where 50,000 people gathered on Nov. 5 to see a hometown rapper, Travis Scott, and other artists perform.
The letter informed Michael Rapino, the president and chief executive of Live Nation Entertainment Inc., that the company had until Jan. 7 to provide details about the security measures it had planned for the festival, where a large, excited crowd surged toward the front of a stage during a performance by Mr. Scott.
“Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival,” the letter said. “We are deeply saddened by the deaths that occurred at Astroworld Festival and are committed to investigating what went wrong to inform possible reforms that could prevent future tragedies.”
The letter was signed by the Oversight and Reform Committee’s chairwoman, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, and its ranking member, Representative James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, and by three other members of the House of Representatives: Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas; Al Green, Democrat of Texas; and Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey.
In a statement, Live Nation said it was “assisting local authorities in their investigation and will of course share information with the committee as well.”
“Safety is core to live events, and Live Nation engages in detailed security planning in coordination with local stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and EMT professionals,” the statement said. “We are heartbroken by the events at Astroworld, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims.”
The concert promoter is facing dozens of civil lawsuits, and the Houston Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the event, which appeared to be one of the deadliest crowd-control disasters at a concert in the United States in many years. The concert recalled a 1979 show by the Who before which thousands of people rushed the doors of Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, leaving 11 dead.
On Dec. 16, the medical examiner’s office in Harris County concluded that the 10 people killed at the Astroworld Festival died of compression asphyxia, meaning they were crushed to death.
The victims ranged in age from 9 to 27. The deaths were an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Hundreds of people were injured at the concert.
As music resumed during the event, Mr. Scott urged the crowd to “make the ground shake.” He is also being sued, as are others tied to the festival.
Since the concert, Live Nation has faced questions about why it didn’t shut down the event immediately after police officers and firefighters began receiving reports at 9:38 p.m. of a “mass casualty event.”
Instead, the concert continued for another 30 minutes.
In their letter, the lawmakers asked for written answers to a series of questions about how Live Nation prepared for the festival and responded to the tragedy, including asking for the precise time that the promoter learned that the authorities declared the concert a mass casualty event.
People who attended the concert said that the event was hectic from the beginning, with fights breaking out throughout the day and people rushing to get to the front of the stage.
The lawmakers cited that chaos in their letter and noted news reports that indicated “security and medical staff were inexperienced or ill-equipped to deal with mass injuries.”
The letter added: “Experts have stated that Astroworld Festival organizers failed to heed warning signs.”