CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) – Two college students from Naperville, who had been best friends since they went to elementary school together, were among the eight people killed following a crowd surge at Houston’s Astroworld Festival late Friday.READ MORE: Chicagoan David Kronfeld Shares Advice To Career Success In New Book
Franco Patino and Jacob Jurinek, both 21, met in grade school in Naperville, and both graduated from Neuqua Valley High School; described by friends and educators alike as “big characters” in a life lived with strong friendships.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports the story behind how they died still doesn’t make sense to many that knew them.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me right now, how; how this could have occurred,” said Danny Dally, a friend of both Jurinek and Patino.
They traveled together and played high school football together. Patino and Dally even made a pact for later in life.
“I’m like, ‘If I ever get married, you’ll be my best man — for sure.’ He was going to be my best man,” Dally said.
The loss of two of his best friends is hard, but trying to understand exactly how this tragedy unfolded is brutal.
“They weren’t small individuals. They worked out all the time. They went to the gym. I don’t get how … two of them together could be knocked over so easily,” Dally said.
They were in the crowd during Travis Scott’s performance at the Astroworld music festival in Houston on Friday, when authorities said concertgoers started to “compress” toward the stage.
“That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said early Saturday. At least, including Patino and Jurinek, were killed and dozens were hospitalized. The oldest victim was 27 years old; the youngest was 14.
Patino was a senior at the University of Dayton, where he majored in mechanical engineering technology and minored in human movement biomechanics.
Jurinek was a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, studying advertising and journalism.
“They met in elementary school and were best friends every step of each other lives,” Patino’s brother, Cesar, told CBS 2’s Marissa Parra.
Patino’s family said he was involved in football, rugby, and wrestling while in high school.
In a statement, his family said, “We’re comforted by the impact Franco made on hundreds of people over the years and that they will carry a piece of him from now on.”
He was also active in multiple organizations on campus at the University of Dayton, including being a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, a Hispanic interest fraternity. The fraternity shared the news of Patino on Twitter.
Patino was also a member in the Greek and MEC campus communities, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UD, active in the ETHOS program, and was currently working in an engineering co-op program in Mason, Ohio.
Jurinek’s family said he was pursuing his passion for art and media at SIUC, and even did work as a graphic arts and media intern for the school’s athletic department.READ MORE: At Least 24 People Wounded, 1 Killed In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
He was affectionately known as “Big Jake” by his younger cousins, because he had a larger-than-life personality.
“We are all devastated and are left with a huge hole in our lives,” his father, Ron Jurinek said in a statement.
As the investigation continues in Houston, students and teachers are mourning at both of their college campuses.
“There are a lot of tears,” said Bridget Lescelius, who taught Jurinek advertising at Southern Illinois University. “He was a main character, you know? And in classes, and in coursework, and on the campus campus, life; you know, there are main characters, and he was a main character. He was so true to himself.”
“He was the main attraction of every room that he walked into, and it was only for good reason,” Dally said.
The reasons behind what ended their lives so abruptly and so early aren’t entirely clear, but those left behind want a clear legacy to be left in their absence.
“I just want to honor him, because he honored me for the last two years, and I want to make sure that his story is told in a real human way, because he was a sweet soul,” Lescelius said.
“I still don’t think it’s real, you know? I still think it’s ‘Oh, we made a mistake,’” Dally said.
Both SIU and University of Dayton are holding vigils for the two friends.
Services for family in Naperville and at their alma mater are still being planned.
An investigation is underway to determine what led to the events that killed eight people, including Patino and Jurinek, and injuring several others. An estimated 50,000 people were in attendance for the concert Friday night.
The crowd began to push and move towards the stage around 9 p.m. when Travis Scott was performing. Scott released a statement to express his disbelief about what happened during the festival.
“I am absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld. Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need,” Scott said.
The organizer of the event canceled Saturday’s show because of the incident the night before. There is no word as to what started the stampede in the crowd.
Houston’s fire chief said the event cleared out quickly after the stampede, proving exits were clear. Police are investigating what sparked the crowd surge.
According to the mayor of Houston, Astroworld had more security than the World Series games between the Astros and Braves.
Meanwhile, a man who attended the festival has filed a civil lawsuit against Travis Scott and Drake, blaming the rappers for negligently inciting “a riot and violence,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit, which seeks $1 million in damages, also claims the venue and entertainment company Live Nation failed to provide adequate security and medical services at the Astroworld festival.
Scott and Drake declined to comment on the lawsuit. In a statement on Saturday, Scott said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place.” Representatives for Live Nation did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
CBS News also has learned organizers did not have a contingency plan in place for surging crowds, despite three people being trampled and hospitalized at the festival in 2019.
Scott will pay the funeral costs for the eight people who died Friday night, and will help survivors and others get free counseling. Variety reported he also has canceled his appearance at the Day N Vegas festival this weekend.MORE NEWS: 1 Person In Critical Condition, 8 Displaced After Fire In Aurora