Stark County teen trampled at deadly Travis Scott concert, Astroworld survivor needs therapy

The 17-year-old Jackson High School student was trampled during the Houston music festival.
The 17-year-old Jackson High School student was trampled during the Houston music festival.(Todd Downerd)
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 11:30 PM EST
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STARK COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - At least 18 lawsuits have been filed in Texas related to the Travis Scott Astroworld tragedy that killed eight concertgoers. Among the crowd of 50,000 in Houston Friday was a Stark County teen who was injured and feared for his life.

“I felt like my legs were gonna break,” Jackson High Junior Cooper Downerd said. “My ribs were getting crushed. I couldn’t breathe anymore.”

Downerd wanted nothing more than to attend Astroworld and see his favorite artist Travis Scott perform.

Now that the shows are over, he’s recovering from a concussion and will need therapy.

“I felt like my legs were gonna break,” Downerd said. “My ribs were getting crushed. I couldn’t breathe anymore.”

The 17-year-old had worked odd jobs for months so that he could help pay for tickets and airfare to Astroworld.

“I had countdowns going on my phone,” Downerd explained. “I wouldn’t stop bugging my friends to the point where they were getting really annoyed with me just cause I kept telling them about it.”

When Todd Downerd hopped on a plane to Houston with his 17-year-old son, he felt like dad of the year.

“The lineup wasn’t announced until like a week before,” his father said. “They didn’t actually announce who was gonna be on the bill, and as soon as they did, he created a playlist, and he’s like here you can listen to this, and I was like, that’s alright.”

When the big day finally came, the teen never imagined it would end with him being trampled and fighting for his life in a crowd of 50,000 people.

“I was getting trampled; my neck was getting stepped on,” he said. “I got kicked in the face, the mouth. I got like dirt thrown up in my mouth. I didn’t think I was gonna make it because I saw that guy dying, and I was in the same situation as him, and I almost gave up because I couldn’t do it, and I was just so tired.”

But within seconds of the rapper taking the stage, he was on the ground.

“I think I heard him say four words, and I was on the ground and since I was the first on the ground person after person kept piling on top of me and I couldn’t get up after that because I had at least like ten people on top of me,” he said.

Downerd said people were stomping on his neck, head, trampling over his ribs.

The teen said he felt trapped, he couldn’t move an inch, and he tried to scream, but it was useless.

“The guy across from me was also under in the same position as me, and I’m pretty sure he passed away in front of me,” the teen said. “I was scratching at people’s ankles and grabbing them, trying to get their attention.”

Downerd had been enjoying the opening acts while his dad waited in line to buy him festival memorabilia.

They had a plan in place to meet, but that never happened. By what felt like a miracle, Cooper finally stood up and dragged himself to the medical tent.

“The medical tent that scene, it was terrible it was traumatizing,” his dad said. “You know you saw things you just you can’t unsee. He was on a cot. He had a neck brace on. He had abrasions on his forehead.”

Dad rode in the back of an ambulance with his son to the hospital.

After some tests, they were sent back to their hotel. Now they’re back in North Canton.

“So many things went wrong on so many levels, and there’s multiple things to blame,” his father said. “The ratio of security to the number of people attending. It was a lot of selfish behavior, and then you know even on the artist he knew there were problems there was an ambulance going through the crowd.

Downerd worked in radio for years and had been to his fair share of music festivals tells me he’s never seen anything like it.

“You know I saw multiple, multiple people getting CPR and knowing you can’t give CPR that long and it work and seeing flatlines on the EKG machines and stuff, so it was very traumatic to see that, and I’m just grateful that he’s okay and that he’s here,” he said.

While the father and son certainly will never forget their time at the Astroworld music festival, it won’t be the happy memory they expected.

“There’s moments where he’s you know he’s great, and you know there’s moments where you can tell the trauma kicks in,” his dad said. “Honestly, I have my moments too I mean the stuff that I saw, I close my eyes, and that’s all I see, so it’s tough, but we’re here for each other, and we’re gonna get through this.”

Downerd suffered a concussion, but he’s doing better.

He’s also still dealing with emotional shock, which put him back in the hospital in Akron on Monday.

His dad says they’ll both be going to therapy.

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