Carson City residents among last to leave Las Vegas massacre scene
When tragedy strikes, it can bring out the best in people and highlight those selfless enough to risk their lives to save others.
Carson City resident Becky Wilson was one of the last people to leave the concert venue early Monday morning after Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in the massacre that happened late Sunday night in Las Vegas.
When a man next to her had been shot, she went into “mom mode” and stayed with him inside the venue until paramedics could come.
“You just do what you have to do,” Wilson said. “We were on the ground and I could hear he had been shot, so I whipped off my outer shirt and started to pressure it and help.”
She said they had a group of people sitting with the man, including his girlfriend, as they held his hand and assured him he would be all right.
“There wasn’t much blood, but he was having trouble breathing and he said he couldn’t feel his legs,” Wilson said. “But we stayed with him until the medics could come.”
Once a paramedic got there, they carried the man away on a plastic table and Wilson ran from the venue.
She ended up back at her hotel, The Luxor where a security guard let her in a side door to hide, but at that time she had gotten separated from her two friends, the building had gone into lockdown and she was completely alone.
“After being in Vegas for a few days, you get used to the dings and the noise,” Wilson said. “(When I entered the hotel) there was no noise, nothing, not a fricking person in sight.”
For Carson City resident Jeslyn Coates, the Tropicana Hotel became a safe haven for her and her mother during the shooting.
Coates said they had moved to the back of the venue before the shooting started to get away from the crowd and it was a decision that may have saved her life.
“When he started shooting, I heard a pop and was looking around for fireworks,” Coates said. “(When I figured it out) I told my mom to start running, but I didn’t comprehend what it was until someone started screaming and I could see stuff flying through the air from the bullets.”
The two women took cover in the Tropicana hotel where they met a couple who took them and 10 other survivors back to their hotel room to wait out the chaos for the next five and a half hours.
“I was scared, we were running for our lives,” Coates said. “We didn’t know where the shots were coming from, they were so loud we thought someone was shooting in the venue, we didn’t know where to run.”
Across the street at the Luxor, Wilson was safe, but not out of the clear yet. Because the hotel was in lockdown, Wilson couldn’t get back into her room. But she still didn’t know what had happened at the event, so confused and scared, she wedged herself between a Pepsi vending machine and the wall to wait for it to be safe.
“I called my kids and was texting my family until my phone died,” Wilson said. “They were so relieved to hear from me.”
Wilson said she was in that spot until nearly 3:30 a.m. before she could get back into her room and she said while she was there, she prayed and thought about her kids and thought about the shooter.
“You just think why someone would do this, why they are so angry or hurt or upset to make him do this,” Wilson asked. “Then, why this event, because there are events there all the time, the iHeart Radio festival was just the week before. And it is just why, why, why?”
Though the loss was great, Wilson credits the first responders on scene for their tactics and swift response.
“I am grateful for the first responders, for people who jumped in and the Las Vegas Metro Police Department had a wonderful response, they were trained for this and handled it well,” Wilson said. “I just wanted to express my praise for them and the community, the response from people to help.”
“There are lots of angels out there, I had prayer warriors from all over the U.S. texting and tagging and posting to make sure I was OK.”
Now, it’s about healing for the women and moving on from the incident.
“Physically we are fine, it’s just the aftermath of it… we are just taking it day by day, I don’t want to watch the news because I don’t want to relive that,” Coates said. “You could see where everyone had been running and blood everywhere, just to hear the sounds and people screaming, it was horrible.”
Coates said this incident has changed how she sees the world.
“I am now very cautious of my surroundings… it was just very traumatic not knowing how someone could do something like this, you just never know,” Coates said
She said she hopes one day she could attend big events like that, but for now, she doesn’t see herself going back to Route 91.
“I hope as time goes on and I heal I could go back to things like that, but for now I can’t see myself doing so,” Coates said. “…my mom and I had been wanting to go for years and we never could, but I will never go again.”
For Wilson, to not return to the festival would be letting the shooter win, letting him dictate her life with fear.
“I am going back next year,” Wilson said. “I am not going to let this determine me, I am going to fight my fear and go. I won’t let what happened make me live in fear.”
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