The pandemonium unfolded Friday evening at Astroworld, a sold-out, two-day event in NRG Park with an estimated 50,000 people in attendance. As a timer clicked down to the start of a performance by rapper Travis Scott, the crowd pushed forward.
"The crowd started pushing, so people started falling and in my head I was just thinking: 'If you fall, you die. Just please don't fall,'" said Lucas Naccarati of Arcadia.
He described a chilling ordeal as he desperately tried to escape and help others who were around him.
"There was a girl next to me that was just screaming: 'Please help me. I can't breathe, I need to get out of here.' Her boyfriend couldn't really help her, so I just really tried everything I could to get them out of there."
Astroworld victims: What we know about 8 killed during Travis Scott performance
Naccarati says he was pushed up against the crowd and felt multiple body parts.
"Unfortunately, I had to just step on anything I could or I was going to fall."
An Apple livestream shows Scott stopping his performance several times after spotting fans in distress.
One attendee said that as a timer clicked down to the start of Scott's performance, the crowd pushed forward.
"As soon as he jumped out on the stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire," concertgoer Niaara Goods said. "All of a sudden, your ribs are being crushed. You have someone's arm in your neck. You're trying to breathe, but you can't."
Goods said she was so desperate to get out that she bit a man on the shoulder to get him to move.
The dead ranged in age from 14 to 27, and 13 people were still hospitalized Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. He called the disaster "a tragedy on many different levels" and said it was too early to draw conclusions about what went wrong. Dozens were injured.
Travis Scott, a Houston native, posted a video message online after the incident.
"I just want to send out prayers to the, to the ones that was lost last night," he said. "I mean, I'm honestly just devastated. I could never imagine anything like this just happening."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.