Houston launches Special Events Task Force in wake of Astroworld Festival tragedy

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston will see its first changes to city events, three months after the Astroworld tragedy in 2021.

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia Wednesday morning to announce a new task force focused specifically on how special events are organized in the Houston area.

The Special Events Task Force will review and make recommendations to improve communication, protocols, and permitting requirements in the city and county.

"It's about looking to the future, and not back on any one incident," Turner said.

Local leaders said they're doing this to ensure consistent operational standards for future events. They worked together to appoint 10 industry leaders to serve on the task force.

"The line of demarcation between the city and county properties is invisible to the public," Turner said. "Together, we can build upon our individual achievements by working more collaboratively through our governmental processes, coordinating collaboration and communication."

The Special Events Task Force members include:

  • Susan Christian - Director of Mayor's Office of Special Events
  • Troy Finner - Houston Police Department Chief
  • Sam Peña - Houston Fire Department Chief
  • Steve Adelman - Vice President of Event Safety Alliance
  • Rob McKinley - Co-founder, President and Owner of LD Systems
  • Major Rolf Nelson - Harris County Sheriff's Office
  • Ryan Walsh - Executive Director of Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation
  • Mike Demarco - Chief of Show Operations Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • Laurie Christensen - Harris County Fire Marshal
  • Harry K. Turner Sr. - Deputy County Administrator of Justice and Public Safety

"Each member of the task force brings individual expertise in various disciplines within the events industry," Turner explained.

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In November of 2021, a crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival at NRG Park left 10 people dead and hundreds injured. City and county leaders want to make sure something like this never happens again.

"We will have an improvement in how that communication works, specifically to security plans," said Susan Christian with the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

Paul Turberville, a Houston resident, said he supports the collaborative effort.

"The larger events where there is going to be mass amounts of people, you know, we can avoid incidents like the Astroworld incident. Then yeah, I'm all for it," he said.

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