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'You saw things you can't unsee': Local father and son share Astroworld experience

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Nov 10, 2021

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — As investigators in Houston work to find out how eight people died Friday at the Astroworld music festival, a local teen who was in the surge shares his experience.

Concerts and chaos are nothing new for Cooper Downerd and his dad, Todd.

I've been to a lot of concerts, a lot. I've been to festivals,” said Todd. “I came from metal shows and punk shows and somebody falls down, you pick them up.”

But they say nothing compares to what they experienced at Astroworld in Houston.

I thought I was going to die,” said Cooper.

The father-son duo told News 5 they got to the show early and immediately saw signs of trouble.

“We went straight to the merch line and right away the fencing was getting taken and pushed over like crowd surfing,” Cooper explained.

Then, just seconds of Travis Scott hitting the stage, Cooper was waiting for or his dad when he hit the ground.

“Right as he came out and screamed in like 20 seconds in the first song, I was right on the ground,” he said. “I was getting kicked in the head, I had mulch getting thrown in my mouth and someone stomped on my neck…I had to bite people's ankles, scratch at them and try to get their attention.”

Cooper was eventually able to get up with help from a stranger.

“That's when I get the phone call from him telling me that he's in, he's in the medical tent,” said Todd. “My son was in there and he's in a cot. He's got a neck brace on. You know, he's got abrasions on his forehead. No shoes.”

Cooper was one of many injured. Eight people died.

“This is an incident that happened and it's tragic and terribly unfortunate, but it does not happen all the time,” said Denny Young, president of The Elevation Group.

Young and his team help put on festivals in Cleveland and Columbus, including WonderStruck.

“We go through quite a vetting process for our on-site security and safety personnel. We work very, very closely with city and county law enforcement agencies, and we have a great crowd management plan.”

Local venues like the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern say occupancy restrictions and exit requirements are key as well and make it more difficult for dangerous crowd surging. Young says having multiple stages can also help disperse crowds. The Downerds are just hoping more concerts take things like this into consideration.

“I'm just glad we're home and we're all in one piece,” said Todd.

News 5 reached out to "Live Nation," the company behind the Astroworld event. We wanted to know how it handles events at local outdoor venues like blossom and Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. We have not heard back yet.

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