There is no denying that the horrific shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday evening was anything short of a tragedy. As personal accounts emerge detailing the fear, loss, and bloodshed experienced and witnessed on that fateful night, many others describe the heroes that rose above to rescue loved ones and strangers alike. Though it’s difficult to look past the pure evil that set that night in motion, here are some stories about those heroes that quickly answered the call to action and restored what little faith in humanity that we have left.
Taylor Winston and Jenn Lewis found a truck with the keys inside and used it as an ambulance
While some have pointed negatively to these people for stealing the truck, Taylor Winston and Jenn Lewis were able to rescue and transport about 30 people to the hospital when there were too many victims and not enough first responders. The couple found the truck in a nearby lot as they were fleeing the festival and immediately got in, driving straight back to where the shooting was occurring to load people into the cab and truck bed. “People needed to get out of there, and we tried the best we could to get as many as we could,” Winston told The Daily Beast. A squad car wound up helping them by escorting them through crowds so they could get to the hospital quickly.
A couple days after the shooting, the owner of the truck was finally able to determine that the couple had his car and texted them saying that he hopes the person they were transporting wound up okay. Upon informing the owner that they had actually saved several dozen people, they then were able to return the truck to the owner.
Jack Beaton was shielding his wife, Laurie, when he was fatally shot by an unknown amount of bullets.
“He put Laurie on the ground and covered her with his body and he got shot I don’t know how many times,” Laurie’s father, Jerry Cook, told BakersfieldNow. “Laurie was saying he was bleeding through the mouth, bleeding profusely, she knew he was dying. He told her he loved her. Laurie could tell he was slipping. She told him she loved him and she would see him in heaven.”
His son, Jake, was the first to post about him in the above tweet.
Kody Robertson walked miles throughout the night to save others and update a family of a woman he had just met that day
Kody Robertson, an Ohio resident, met Michelle Vo, a California resident, on the last day of the festival and the two hit it off right away. They spent the day together and were standing next to each other when the shooting started. When Robertson realized what was happening, he looked over at Vo at the same moment she was shot in the left side of her chest. As the shooting continued, he threw himself on top of Vo to shield her from further harm. Once the shooting ceased, he picked her up and moved her to a safer spot until he saw a truck going by on the way to the hospital. Knowing it was her best shot, he sent her off so she could receive medical care. He ran back to the scene to help more people, and described what he saw.
“We put a girl on a beer cooler to try to push her out; we were carrying people out on the steel barriers from the perimeter,” Robertson said of himself and others providing aid. “Wives screaming at husbands to wake up, and a husband on top of his wife trying to do CPR.”
He found Vo’s purse and located her cell phone, which he had to a hotel to retrieve. Despite all the missed calls and texts, he had to wait for another incoming call to answer because of the passcode. He was finally connected with Vo’s brother-in-law, and Robertson worked with the family all night to figure out where Vo was staying. He walked several miles back and forth from hospitals and hotels and was finally called in by doctors and a counselor.
“Michelle didn’t make it,” one of the doctors said. “The wounds were too much. She didn’t make it.”
Vo’s family and Robertson finally met later on Monday, and tearfully checked out of Vo’s room for her after gathering her belongings.
“Kody was our guardian angel,” said Diane Hawkins, 40, Vo’s oldest sister, who believes that had Robertson not tracked down her sister, their family would still be searching for her. “He refused to let her be alone.”
Firefighter Steve Keys was shot while performing CPR on a wounded woman
Steve Keys was one of the first responders to the horrific shooting and he truly put his life on the line to save others. Rather than follow the crowd running away from danger, he ran straight in and tried to save those that he could. In the process of giving CPR to a wounded woman, Keys was suddenly shot. The bullet grazed his chest and stomach, and later Keys told a friend, “Yeah, I got shot. I’ll be fine.” Instead of heading off to have his wound attended to, he continued performing CPR on the woman. Afterwards, he moved onto the street to help others make it to safety. He was eventually picked up by a friend, who was caught up in the attack as well and had seen that he was bleeding.
Jonathan Smith saved around 30 people by leading them to safety before being shot in the neck
Orange County, CA resident Jonathan Smith was immediately separated from his entire extended family in attendance at the festival that night, but he didn’t let it stop him from helping others. When he looked around for his three nieces, he instead noticed that some people were so panicked that they simply stood where they were in shock. He kept shouting, “Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run.” He grabbed several people and ran with them to a nearby parking lot that was further away from Las Vegas Boulevard. They all crouched behind cars, but he saw that there were a few girls that weren’t fully covered. It was when he stood up, moved toward them, and ushered them to get on the ground that he suddenly got shot in the neck.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Smith in the early hours of Monday morning while at the hospital. “I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life.”
The doctors decided to leave the bullet in his neck for the time being because removing it could cause more damage. The 30-year-old already has a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib, and a bruised lung, but he’s thankful to be alive. He credits an off-duty San Diego police officer for saving his life, as the officer saw Smith get hit and immediately ran over to help stop the bleeding and flagged down drivers to get Smith to hospital as quickly as possible. All of Smith’s family members made it out safely, too.
Sonny Melton saved his wife, Heather, by pushing her through the crowd just before being fatally shot in the back
Sonny Melton, a nurse from Tennessee, was attending the festival with his wife, Heather, when they realized that the noises they were hearing weren’t fireworks. Though Heather continued standing where she was, panicked, Sonny immediately sprang into action and pushed Heather away from danger and in the direction the crowd was going.
“He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” Heather said. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Even as a surgeon at the same hospital as Sonny, Heather was unable to do anything to save her husband’s life and he died in her arms. These are the same horrors that many people faced that night.
New mom Summer Clyburn was shot while shielding her fiancé, Michael Gracia, who had been shot in the head
When new mom Summer Clyburn went to the festival with her fiancé, Michael Gracia, the pair thought it would be a welcome break to their hectic new schedule. On that last night, however, when the shooting broke out, the two were forced to flee along with everyone else, at which point Gracia was shot in the head. Despite the danger she exposed herself to by not having any cover for herself, the 22-year-old lay on top of him after he was severely wounded in order to prevent further injury. This caused her to also get shot in the back, but thankfully her shot was non-life-threatening. When it was safe to get up again, Clyburn got help for Gracia, who went into surgery the next morning and was described as being stable but still in critical condition. Gracia has been a police officer for the past four years in Southern California.
Retired teacher Mike Cronk used his shirt to stop friend’s bleeding after he was shot 3 times and held someone as they took their last breaths
While the crowds scattered as people realized the sounds were gunshots, Mike Cronk stayed behind because his friend had immediately been shot three times in the chest. He removed his own shirt and used it to stop the bleeding while they waited for the shooting to stop as well. At that point, he and other friends were able to safely put their friend on the other side of a nearby fence and push him under the stage in case the shooting started again.
“It was very chaotic, but my buddy was shot so there was no way I’m gonna leave him,” Mike Cronk told Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer in a phone interview on TODAY. “I really wasn’t concerned (about the shots). I was concerned about my buddy. I know he wouldn’t have left me.”
He and his friends were flagging down a pickup truck to come transport the friend and a few other wounded victims when the streets were suddenly closed, so Cronk frantically ran to an ambulance and asked them to come pick up the people he had rescued. He ran back to the victims and waited for help.
“I was transferring somebody’s son and he passed away there in my arms as we were there on the curbside,” Cronk said.
Mike Mcgarry threw himself on nearby students to protect them from gunfire
Mike Mcgarry was at the concert with his wife when the shooting started and he wasted no time in aiding others in those first blurry minutes. He saw young college students around him frozen and unsure of what to do, and he didn’t even think twice about shielding them from the gunfire.
“It was crazy — I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I‘m 53. I lived a good life,” he said.
He also brought over a chair and table to cover the young adults he couldn’t reach, estimating that it was about 14 people, but mostly used his own body to shield them. In an interview with Reuters, the publication made a note that the back of his T-shirt was covered in footmarks.
“People ran over him in the panicked crowd.”
Despite his bravery, he says his wife, who is a nurse, was much braver than him and also sprang to action when needed. She created a tourniquet for one of the injured among them and helped them get to safety.
Lindsay Padgett made it safely to her truck when she decided to head back into danger and rescue others
The 29-year-old and her fiancé, Mike Jay, consider themselves lucky for not being hit by gunfire as they fled the area that the concert was being held at. Padgett said that with so many people and nowhere to run for cover where she was, they all had to crouch down in the field.
“We saw everyone being shot left and right,” she said. “We’re just all on top of each other on the floor, huddling together, looking at each other not sure what to do.”
When people finally started running, she, Jay, and their friends got up and didn’t stop running until they reached a nearby airport hangar. Padgett and Jay made it to their truck when they noticed that people were everywhere and in need of rides to the hospital. With all of the ambulances filled up, they decided to take some of the wounded people with them to get them there faster. Halfway to the hospital, they saw an empty ambulance and stopped to transfer their most critical passengers in the hopes that the EMTs could save them. Unfortunately, one EMT informed Padgett that one of the passengers wound up dying. The couple delivered the rest of the people to the hospital as fast as they could and dropped them off.
“We were ready to go back and get more people, but my cousin called me because they were scared. My cousin was locked inside the MGM and they heard screaming, so we went there to get my cousin and my family,” Padgett said.
Off-duty firefighter Kurt Fowler was severely wounded when shielding his wife from gunfire
Kurt Fowler is a firefighter in Arizona, but he was at the concert with his wife, Trina, to enjoy himself on that fateful night. When the shooting broke out, he pulled his wife to the ground and shielded her while the bullets flew past. While protecting her, a bullet hit him in the right leg, but he continued to lay on top of her in case they were struck again. Thankfully, they weren’t hit again and they made it safely to the hospital, where Fowler had to undergo surgery. He was stable and in good condition after a successful surgery and some of his fellow firefighters drove to Las Vegas to be with him during his recovery.