BOARDMAN — Days after eight people died at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, Ivan Bosnjak still hasn’t taken off his concert wristband.
“I knew that people were hurt, but when I left the concert, I didn't know anyone died,” Bosnjak said.
Bosnjak, a DJ and artist himself who lives in Boardman, had attended the inaugural Astroworld in 2018 with his father and brother and couldn’t wait to come back this year with his friends.
"It was huge. So many things to do. Rides, games, things to eat, food trucks,” Bosnjak said, adding that performers began opening acts throughout the day.
But when Travis Scott, the final performer, came out on stage, Bosnjak said people immediately began to press forward to get closer.
"People just went crazy when he came out," Bosnjak remembered.
He said he went from being able to stand around, talk to friends, use his arms and look at his phone to a crowd of people pushing from all sides.
"People just pushed up against you,” Bosnjak said. “It was instant compression around you everywhere. It was a shock wave."
Bosnjak said he didn't have as much of an issue breathing in the closely-packed mass of people because he is taller, but some of his shorter friends had more trouble.
"I've never felt this crushed, even in 2018 when I was in the front row of Astro, when I was in the very front," Bosnjak said. "And obviously, there was pushing behind me, but it was never, ever like this."
Eight people died in the crowd crush, and many others were hurt. While Bosnjak wasn’t in the area where people were killed, he said it was wild all over, with people passed out. He said they were given water and taken away by their friends.
But he did see some disturbing things, like people climbing on top of an ambulance that had come through the crowd to the middle of a mosh pit.
"OK, someone is getting help underneath this ambulance and people are climbing on top of it, on top of it to see, get a better view," Bosnjak said. "I mean, if that doesn't tell you how crazy this actually was, then I don't know what will."
While he did not see it himself, he saw videos later of concertgoers giving other concertgoers CPR to try and save them.
"Seeing that just changes what you think about concerts in general," Bosnjak said.
Tom Ramsey, CEO of CK Tactical Security in Kentucky, said everything that happened in Houston likely could have been prevented.
"It looked like they were severely understaffed," Ramsey said. "I only saw a couple of security personnel and event coordinators."
He also noted that there was only one entrance.
"When you only have one entrance, you're trying to funnel that many people, and really, it doesn't matter if it's 6,000 or 60,000 or 600," Ramsey said.
One of the videos Bosnjak took at the concert does show Travis Scott stopping the music at one point to get help for a fan.
While Bosnjak does think the show should have been stopped, he did not think it was all Travis Scott's fault and said security or venue managers could and should have intervened. As a DJ himself, he said it can be tough to be on a stage in front of so many people and be aware of everything that happens.
"You have lights in your face, you're trying to sing, you're trying to do your job, work, I'm trying to deejay, I'm trying to pay attention to my music, make sure my deejay has the correct song coming on," Bosnjak said.
Bosnjak also said he thinks there were too many people at the concert.
Asked what he would say to the families of the eight victims, Bosnjak spoke from the heart.
"For all the families out there who are mourning a loss of a loved one that went to this concert, that went to have a good time, my heart goes out to you as a fellow concertgoer and as someone else who was there. I understand the magnitude, I understand that force that was brought upon everyone. And I wish that this would have never happened. I wish that people could go back home to their family. I think that you guys have every reason to be upset with the situation. And I think that somebody needs to be held accountable. Some group or somebody needs to be held accountable for what happened."
He added that he was still thinking about what happened that day and remembering how he felt in that situation.
"I just want everyone to know that if they were around me, I would have done everything I could to help them as well," Bosnjak said.