‘We want justice for Bharti’: Another victim of Houston’s Astroworld concert dies
Bharti Shahani was a daughter of Houston, a dutiful, first-generation Indian American — an A and B student in computer engineering at Texas A&M University.
So it was unusual when the 22-year-old senior who loved badminton, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and her husky Blue, asked her parents to attend Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert.
“We don’t go to concerts. We don’t know what this concert is all about,” her mother, Karishma Shahani, said Thursday as she stood with relatives in their attorney’s office.
Wednesday evening, Shahani became the ninth person to die from injuries sustained at the concert. In the chaos that ensued at the Astroworld Festival on Friday, she was separated from her older cousin and younger sister. She lingered in critical condition in Houston Methodist Hospital. On Thursday, her family announced her passing.
“My baby didn’t come back,” her mother said.
Karishma Shahani said she consented to her daughter attending the concert because she was “always giving” and “this is the first thing she asked me for herself.”
Travis Scott has pledged to fund memorial services for those who died at his Astroworld music festival. He’s also offering free therapy to survivors.
Houston police opened homicide and narcotics investigations following the deadly concert by the hometown rapper, but have yet to charge anyone. Autopsies for those who died — who ranged in age from 14 to 27 — were still pending Thursday, and more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Astroworld organizers. Calls have increased for an independent investigation because of Scott’s ties to city leaders.
Namrata Shahani, 20, a student at the University of Houston, recalled how excited her older sister had been as she prepared for Astroworld, planning and trying on outfits for her. The last time she saw her, she was holding her hand in the crowd.
“The last thing she said to me was, ‘Are you OK?’” Shahani said.
Then the crowd surged, and Bharti vanished.
Cousin Mohit Velani found her hours later in the emergency room of nearby Houston Methodist.
“I was assuming she’d just be dehydrated,” said Velani, 25.
Doctors told him she’d already suffered two heart attacks and was on a ventilator.
“I walked into the room and saw her with tubes down her throat,” he said.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said there was no need to hand over the criminal investigation to an outside agency.
Shahani’s parents stayed in intensive care with her for the past six days, “so whatever time is left, we can spend with her,” father Sunny Shahani said. They didn’t sleep. Their daughter remained unresponsive. At home, her dog Blue roamed the house, they said, searching for her.
At 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, doctors pronounced Bharti Shahani dead. Within 48 hours, she would be removed from the ventilator, her parents said, her organs donated, as was her wish.
Shahani’s family said they have not been in touch with Travis Scott, whose attorneys issued a statement Thursday urging victims’ families to contact them. The Shahanis said they had not been in contact with other victims’ families either, including relatives of 9-year-old Ezra Blount of north Texas, who was placed in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator after being trampled at the concert, relatives said.
“Ezra I’m going to fight for you no matter what I love you so much and can’t no one tell me any different #keephopealive,” father Treston Blount posted on Facebook late Thursday.
Ezra remained in critical condition late Thursday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The Shahanis and their attorney said they want to hold those who organized the concert accountable, and to do what they can to prevent future disasters.
“They suffocated us. They did this to Bharti. They did this to the 9-year-old boy now in the ICU fighting for his life,” Velani said. “There are so many families grieving right now.”
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