Crushed Between Life and Death

Crushed Between Life and Death

Kylie Pavlovsky, Editor in Chief

What was supposed to be a fun night out turns into complete chaos in Itaewon, South Korea. 156 people, from just a city over to across the world, were killed in a crowd crush on October 29, 2022. It’s the second worst mass casualty since the 2014 Sewol Ferry Incident where 306 people died, 250 of which were high school students. 

The term “Crowd Crush” has been used to describe several devastating mass casualties. In 2008, the Naina Devi Temple crush claimed 140, and in 2020, Phnom Penh in Cambodia killed 347. Los Olivos in Peru (2020), Lan Kwai Fong (1993) and Meron in Israel (2021) also saw senseless deaths. Itaewon, however, is one of the deadliest in the last decade

“I think that it was a really sad thing to happen, and it shouldn’t have occurred,” senior Aubrianna Kline said. “It could have been prevented, but there were so many risks that night, and too many lives were lost.”

Although Itaewon is the most recent crush, it may not be the last. Crowd crushes can happen anywhere, from parades to concerts to any area with a high concentration of people. This makes crowd crush safety a new priority that should be learned by anyone going to a big event. The New York Times instructs before even going to an event, to research. Most put together events will have a crowd safety plan you can review. The first steps that should be taken upon arrival is making sure the venue is organized in terms of whether or not there are seats and various exits.

“I don’t know much about crowd crush safety, but I do feel like it’s very important to learn,” Kline said. “Not only for the people planning the events but the ones attending as well. Sadly, we never know if it could happen to us, and it shouldn’t have happened to the ones who lost their lives.”

Another well-known catastrophe was Astroworld on November 5th, 2021. During a performance by Travis Scott, a crowd surge began and lives were soon lost. There were 8 casualties at the Houston, Texas event. In the same month as Itaewon, just 28 days earlier, there were 125 deaths at a football game crush in Indonesia. 

“Astroworld was really heartbreaking to see because it definitely could have been prevented, like most crowd surges. But when I read about it and news kept coming out, it was really sad seeing the young people’s lives who were lost,” Kline said. “They were just wanting to see an artist that they love and it turned into such a tragic night for them when it should have been a fun night to remember.”

As holidays approach including Christmas and the New Year, larger events will be held in celebration. This makes safety awareness crucial knowledge before going out and having some fun. Not only can crowd-crushes happen at parades and holiday events, but they can happen at the thousands of concerts held each year. There are various articles online that can provide tips on how to stay calm and survive if you find yourself in a situation like a crowd crush or even a stampede. Many of them advise to keep your eyes open and look for a quick escape such as climbing a fence or tree. Don’t scream and instead save your oxygen and control your breathing. Most deaths in a crowd crush are due to compressive asphyxia which happens when people are packed so closely that airflow is constricted. It’s also best to stand in a boxing position to protect the ribcage and allow space for your lungs. Don’t resist the force of the crowd and instead work your way diagonally to the edge of the crowd. Lastly, if you fall, lie on your left side to protect your lungs. Curl in a ball and protect your neck.