Texas High School Freshman John Hilgert, 14, Identified as Youngest Astroworld Victim: A 'Terrible Loss'

School administrators from Memorial High School in Houston, Texas, confirmed the 14-year-old's death in a statement sent to community members

John Hilgert
John Hilgert. Photo: Courtesy Hilgert Family

John Hilgert, a high school freshman, has been identified as the youngest of the eight victims who died at the mass casualty event during Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival on Friday evening. He was 14.

On Saturday, school administrators from Memorial High School in Houston, Texas, alerted community members of Hilgert's death in a letter, which was obtained by PEOPLE.

"Our hearts go out to the student's family and to his friends and our staff at Memorial," MHS Principal Lisa Weir wrote. "This is a terrible loss, and the entire MHS family is grieving today. Please keep the student's family in your thoughts and prayers as they face this tragedy."

For more on the tragedy at Astroworld, listen below to our daily podcast on People Every Day.

Weir also noted that counselors will be available to students when they return to class.

Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival
Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival. Erika Goldring/WireImage

After news of Hilgert's death was made public, baseball coach Justin Higgs wrote a touching tribute to the young boy alongside a set of photographs and videos.

"RIP John Hilgert. He got the Call up to the Major Leagues by the Almighty!" Higgs began the caption of his post. "John made an impact on anyone who met him and they always remembered him. I have memories of John I'll never forget. You had to love the kid. No option not too [sic] cause he was who he was. He loved the game [of] baseball."

Noting that it "was a privilege to coach" Hilgert, Higgs continued his message by sending out prayers to "any of his friends, teammates, and his family… especially Ms. Hilgert."

"[He was] one of the nicest human beings I've ever met. John was an Angel the whole time I knew him… impacting others for good and he himself was a legend," the athletic instructor added. "The legend of John. Will meet again John. Till then watch over us my friend. Catcher, pitcher, shortstop, great kid. Lived his life to the fullest 🙏🏻."

During a Saturday news conference, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters that alongside Hilgert, a 16-year-old, two 21-year-olds, two 23-year-olds, a 27-year-old, and an eighth victim were also reportedly among the dead. Brianna Rodriguez, 16, Franco Patino, 21, Jacob Jurinek, 21, Axel Acosta, 21, Rudy Peña, 23, and Danish Baig, 27, have since been identified.

About 50,000 people attended the festival and more than 300 people were injured. Turner said of the 25 people initially transported to the hospital, 13 remain hospitalized. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is calling for an independent investigation into what occurred Friday evening and how it could have been prevented.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

In a statement shared on Saturday, Scott, 29, said he was "absolutely devastated" by the events that took place. "My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival." He continued, "Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. Love You All."

A source close to Scott recently told PEOPLE the rapper was unaware of the magnitude of the situation. "The lights were shining in his eyes and he couldn't see what was happening," said the source. "He thought someone had just passed out, which happens during concerts."

RELATED VIDEO: Kylie Jenner Shares Photos from Trip to Houston for Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival

Speaking to PEOPLE after the event, one attendee recalled the atmosphere at NRG Park in Houston prior to the rapper's performance.

"Before Travis came out, I could see there was a bottle war in the GA (general admission) section, people throwing bottles, throwing paper towels," she said. "Then, the same thing started happening in VIP — people are throwing liquid. It's getting scary. People are being tossed and thrown and some people were getting escorted out, but I couldn't even tell if it was security escorting people out."

When Scott hit the stage, things got even worse. "When Travis finally comes out, people are moving even more, getting rowdier," she told PEOPLE. "It just felt like so much pressure as people got excited … I was literally getting squished, very uncomfortable. It felt like I was going to die."

Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Travis Scott. Erika Goldring/WireImage

"I couldn't enjoy it because I seriously could not breathe," she added. "I had to turn away from the stage at points to just breathe. My shoulders were in people's back, I was pressed against people."

Another concert attendee, 20-year-old David McGilver of Houston, shared similar frightening memories of Friday's event.

"As Travis walked out, everyone just started getting knocked over one by one," he told PEOPLE. "We just started falling down to the ground. As I'm falling I can see the security guard, but he was just there by himself. I felt like there was just not a lot of help."

He added, "Once I fell to the ground, more people started stacking up on me and I was already on top of people too. At least 10 people were underneath me."

"I remember me being on the ground and the music stopping and I could hear him say, 'Y'all know what y'all came here for?' And you can hear everybody screaming out for help," McGilver also noted. "And then the music just plays back again. I just don't understand how you can hear everyone screaming out for help and not stop the show at all."

Hilgert's family has asked for those attending his funeral or for those who want to honor his memory, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in their son's name, John Hilgert, to the Spring Branch Education Foundation and Bo's Place.

Related Articles