More than a week after the Astroworld festival, a 9-year-old boy became the youngest person to die from injuries due to the festival's deadly crowd surge.
Ezra Blount, a young Travis Scott fan who attended the festival's headliner with his father on Nov. 5, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday night, becoming the 10th to die from injuries at the festival.
The 9-year-old was on his father Treston Blount's shoulders near the back of the crowd as concertgoers began to push forward at the beginning of the concert. His father lost consciousness in the crowd, and the boy soon fell to the ground and was likely trampled in the frenzy. By the time Treston Blount woke up, his son was nowhere to be found.
Blount filed a police report and was given a message that his son was in the hospital.
The boy had swelling in the brain and "trauma in nearly all organs," according to his father. Blount was one of dozens who were left in critical conditions after some suffered cardiac arrest and other devastating injuries. Over 300 were treated for injuries at a nearby field hospital at the festival, and by the next day, it was discovered five of the remaining hospital patients were minors.
Blount created a GoFundMe for his son's injuries in the wake of the incident as Ezra was put in a medically-induced coma to combat the injuries.
The Blount family becomes one of hundreds of others to sue Scott, festival organizers including Live Nation and others in the wake of the deadly crowd fest as many attest that poor management led to the surge. One Austin man, Kristian Paredes, has had hundreds join his lawsuit against Scott and Drake, a rapper who had a guest performance at the festival, to "hold those entities, those corporations, those individuals responsible, that could have and should have prevented this entire tragedy," according to Paredes' attorney Thomas J. Henry.
Blount's attorney Ben Crump released a statement detailing the loss after Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Blount's death.
I am saddened to learn of Ezra's death this evening. Our city tonight prays for his mom, dad, grandparents, other family members and classmates at this time. They will need all of our support in the months and years to come. May God give them strength. RIP Ezra. st #AstroWorldpic.twitter.com/Ankq7FMa3l
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) November 15, 2021
"The Blount family is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son," Crump said. "This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration. Ezra's death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer."
The Houston Police Department continues to investigate what caused the deadly surge.
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By Kali Bramble
Calls for firmer regulation of the dockless scooters, mopeds and e-bikes scattered about the city may hit the desks of City Council in coming months, as a recommendation from the Downtown Commission makes its way to the agenda.
The recommendation proposes stricter requirements for providers to remove devices blocking sidewalks, crosswalks and other rights of way and increase fees for subsequently impounded vehicles. The proposal also calls for implementing a ticketing system for riders who violate municipal traffic code or state law.
Since 2018, the steady influx of electronic scooters has left Austin’s Transportation Department scrambling to integrate the devices into city infrastructure. As of this year, companies Bird, Lime, LINK, and Wheels collectively operate a total of 14,100 micromobility devices, many of which are concentrated in Austin’s urban core.
“I walked out of my office at Sixth and Congress today at noon and counted 65 scooters laying on their side,” Texas Monthly founder Michael Levy said in a public comment. “It looks like a war zone.”
Critics of the exploding scooter market cite incidents of devices blocking pedestrian walkways for days on end. Under the commission’s proposal, improperly discarded devices would be subject to impounding within two hours, with the time limit reduced to one hour in the downtown area. A $100 release fee along with a $5 per day storage fee would go toward investment in infrastructure solutions, such as augmenting the 25 existing parking corrals throughout the city.
Detractors also cite episodes of reckless and inebriated scooter riders as an increasing public health problem. While restrictions like in-app speed reduction technology have sought to mitigate such incidents, emergency room workers anecdotally report an alarming number of scooter-related injuries, especially on weekends. Preliminary data from Austin Public Health supports such claims, though it is still a challenge to quantify.
Micromobility advocates, on the other hand, argue that scooters provide an important service to those navigating Austin’s patchwork public transportation system. The Transportation Department considers such short-distance mobility options another solution in its toolbox to combat the city’s over-reliance on cars.
Still, scooter skeptics wonder if these benefits outweigh consequences. Levy noted that cities like San Diego have responded very differently to the burgeoning industry, instituting strict regulations and penalties that have reduced the presence of scooters without banning them entirely.
The Downtown Commission’s recommendation proposes citations for scooter riders violating municipal parking and traffic laws amounting to $100 for first-time offenders, followed by $250 for subsequent offenses. The proposal would also ban scooter-riding on a number of highly trafficked sidewalks, though these remain unspecified.
The commission hopes such tools could work alongside efforts by the Transportation Department to ramp up enforcement, including the recent establishment of 10 full-time mobility service officer positions charged with regulating scooter use. Increased revenue from licensing fees and ticketing could also serve to finance infrastructure solutions.
“It’s shocking to me that we currently only get around $1 million a year out of these fees,” Commissioner Mike Lavigne said. “I did some rough math … and figure we’ve maybe gotten $6 million since this thing started. It seems to me like we could be getting a whole lot more to invest in making it more sustainable, like more docking stations and corrals, so there’s somewhere for these scooters to go.”
Come later tonight, Texans will officially know who will be on the ballot for the November general election.
In Texas, candidates must win at least 50% of the vote to be elected. In the March primaries where the top candidate only received a plurality of votes, a runoff is being held. Voters will decide on the candidates to represent their party in the November general election. Just like the March primaries, voters will choose which party they'd like to vote in. Then based on location, each ballot will show which races are in a runoff.
Here's everything you need to know before heading to the polls.
Know before you go
The registration period for this election has passed; check if you're registered to vote here.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. As long as you're in line by 7 p.m., you can vote.
You'll need a valid photo ID to present once you're at a polling location.
Here is where you can vote in Travis County.
View wait times at polling locations here.
Races to watch in Travis County:
- Republican: Incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick won his primary in March.
- Democratic: Mike Collier and Michelle Beckley are vying to be the Democrat candidate on the ballot.
- Republican: Incumbent AG Ken Paxton is fighting for his seat against George P. Bush.
- Democratic: Rochelle Garza and Joe Jaworski will face off to be the Democratic candidate in this race.
View all the statewide races on the ballot here.
U.S. House of Representatives
View the district you live in here.
- Republican: Incumbent Chip Roy won his primary in March.
- Democratic: Claudia Andreana Zapata and Ricardo Villarreal are hoping to secure this vote.
- Republican: Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez are going head to head to be the Republican candidate in this race.
- Democratic: Former Austin council member Greg Casar won this race in March.
- Republican: Ellen Troxclair and Justin Berry are vying to be the Republican candidate in this race.
- Democratic: Pam Baggett won her primary in March.