'We have some healing to do:' Survivors of Las Vegas shooting wonder why they are alive
PETALUMA, Calif. (Debora Villalon/KTVU) - Two Sonoma County couples, survivors of the Las Vegas massacre, say the harrowing experience becomes more upsetting as the shock wears off.
"I keep saying 'we should be dead, we should not be alive, how are we alive?'" mused Kim Schubert of Petaluma, alongside her friend Jennifer McGrath of Sebstopol.
"Can you just go back to your real life after this," wondered McGrath, "I mean, how? How does that look ?"
The country music festival was an event they had looked forward to.
"I'm a huge live music fan so I wanted to experience it all," smiled Kim.
She took a lot of photos and videos as the bands played, and moments before the gunfire, snapped a picture of the Mandalay Bay Casino Resort, thinking how pretty it looked that night.
On the drive home, neither woman could bear to even listen to music.
The foursome never left the concert field during the gunfire, but instinctively helped others near them who were wounded.
"I looked to one side and say a girl, shot in the face," recounted Jen, "and then I looked over to my other side, right next to me they were getting CPR."
Schubert's boyfriend, Joel Wahl, is an EMT who tried to save everyone he could, and is traumatized by those he couldn't.
"Faces and things, I'm still trying to process all the wounds and the different people," Wahl told KTVU, " so it's hard for me to talk about."
Watching the news coverage now, they say they can't bear the sound of the gunfire, so they turn the sound down.
"You can't un-see what we saw, the images, the bodies, the blood, the hurt, the crying, the chaos, the panic, you just go right back to it," said Kim.
Big bruises on Kim's leg are from getting knocked down and trampled, but that happened later at the Tropicana Hotel, when people panicked, fearing another shooter.
For her, the worst moment was calling her 20-year-old daughter, crying as she crouched under bleachers, with bullets raining down and ricocheting. .
"There's a shooter and I don't know if I'm going to make it," Kim told her, "but I wanted to tell you I love you."
Her daughter's response: "No mommy, no Mommy, no."
And Kim conveyed a message for her 11-year-old son.
"You need to tell JT I love him. I think I'm going to die. I don't think I'm coming home."
Jennifer had a similar moment while huddling with her husband, trying to aid and protect a young woman who was seriously wounded.
"I remember just waiting to die. There was no question for me that it was going to happen, because the shots were still going," she described.
"I was cuddled up with them, and I was crying and thinking of my two children, and waiting to get hit, waiting to die."
When the barrage eased, Jen and husband Justin carried the woman, who had died, to the street, using a piece of broken fence as a gurney.
"It was just us, it was just people, half of us were alive and helping and half of us were dead or injured," she recounted.
Jen wishes she could remember the woman's face, so she could comfort her family, but right now, so much is still a blur.
"I would tell them that we stayed with her the whole time, she was never alone, never alone the whole time," Jen declared tearfully.
McGrath's children are 5 and 8 years old, and she is shielding them from any knowledge of what happened.
Both women say their sense of safety is shattered, and they are inclined to stay home for the time being, deferring future travel and concert plans."
"This is trauma," acknowledged Shubert, with McGrath chiming in, "we have some healing to do."