The scene of the most horrific night in Las Vegas sits empty like a ghost town more than a month after the Las Vegas shootings. But the memories of that night still haunt me every time I go to The Strip and where I was that night. I arrived at the Luxor which is right beside the Mandalay Bay at 10:20 pm the night of October 1st, 2017. I was right there when it all started and just didn’t understand what was going on at first. I was parked at a stop light across the street from the festival and the Las Vegas Strip was deserted. There was a man and woman running really fast across the street and I thought they were just in a hurry to get out of the festival before the traffic jam. I assumed the concert had just finished since the Las Vegas Strip was empty and there was only my car, a bus and another car sitting beside me at the light. But I could hear sirens everywhere from every direction. I saw a lot of police lights over at the festival so when the light changed, I turned left on the Strip thinking I didn’t want to go and get in a traffic jam from the festival. It was at that moment I stopped in the street deciding which way to go because it looked like the intersection up ahead was completely blocked with ambulances and police cars. I was getting ready to turn right towards the festival but then I saw a cab squeeze through the corner of the intersection. I proceeded to where hundreds of ambulance and police were in the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana. I thought:” This must be some hell of an accident” but when I passed the intersection there were no wrecked cars and just hundreds of more sirens surrounding me. I then pulled into the Tropicana parking lot where complete chaos was taking place. A woman asked me if I could put someone in my car who had just been shot and take them to the hospital. I just looked at her like she was crazy and said; “What?” Then she started yelling at me saying “Some people are just so unhelpful!” I thought it was just a civil matter between a husband and wife or something so I didn’t want to get involved and could not understand why people were in such a hurry and running from the festival. But just then, a fire /paramedic truck pulled up in front of me and told me to park it and loaded the injured person who I was asked to take into the back of the truck and assisted her. There were guys with cowboy hats waving groups of people to hurry and cross the street yelling: “GO! GO!” but they weren’t stopping the cars coming from the other direction and they were directing them right into on-coming cars and everyone almost got mowed down. One of the men started yelling at me to move but I just listened to the paramedic and did what he told me to do and directed me around the other way around the fire truck after a few minutes. I called Rocky Burnette and said: “Rocky, turn on the TV – there’s something going on here”. Rocky turned on the television and said there was nothing on there but then he said “….Wait – it just came on – shooting in Las Vegas, one person dead.” Cars were driving crazy and people were leaping into pick-up trucks and trying to get away as fast as they could. A car darted out of the MGM like it was on fire right into on coming cars. I let some girls who were hysterical jump in my car and I asked them what was going on. “Lock the car doors! Drive!” they said.They were terrified and told me that they thought there were fireworks going off at the show at first before they started running and lost their friends. We found their friends running on the street with the crowd and they got in my car and they all hugged and cried and I drove them to Planet Hollywood. They told me to go home and lock the door. I said “No way” and said people needed rides. I was very afraid. I took some scared kid home but I made him put his backpack in the front seat because early reports said there were terrorists on the loose. We were both on the phone to our mothers during the drive. My daughter kept texting and calling me that there was a bomb and they were shooting up Circus Circus and that I needed to come home. But I had people in the car so I just kept driving. I picked up a man and a woman at the I Hop and I told them to get in but I might have to pick other people up along the way. They were watching television at the restaurant and were really scared and begged me not to pick up anyone else. The man said if I drove them straight to their hotel he would give me all the money in his wallet which he said was about $45. I spent the rest of the night until 5am driving displaced people from the Thomas and Mack. The Thomas and Mack acted as a temporary triage center for the injured and all the hotels on the Strip were on lock down and no one had anywhere to go. Shuttle buses were bringing hundreds of people there and every time I pulled into the parking lot I would be surrounded by people and the police would ask: “Are you open?” and I would load up. There were hardly any cars to help anyone there. I drove one guy to his friend’s house and he said that he got on the elevator at the Mandalay Bay to come down and see what was going on. When the elevator doors opened, he had rifles in his face from the SWAT team who ordered him: “Get down on the ground!” as they padded him down for weapons before sending him out of the hotel on to a shuttle bus. So many stories, so upsetting.
I woke up the next day and I turned on the television to see the horror and number of deaths and injured in full scale – then it hit me all at once. I started crying and feeling so helpless and upset. I felt the immense grief from the victims of families.I felt such guilt I didn’t do more. A week after the massacre, I drove around to the back street where the concert had taken place. Fences were torn up and bent down that desperate people tried to get over to get out of the festival. There was a parking lot that had a sign that read “Festival Check In”. In that lot there were about 15 cars: A few pickup trucks, one with a horse trailer and some other cars. It occurred to me that these were the cars of victims who would never be returning to them. People who had parked their cars in excitement of a night of music and fun instead of being murdered and wounded. I became guilt ridden for weeks that I didn’t go right towards the festival and put every bloody injured person in the car and rush them to the hospital. I felt such hopelessness and emptiness that I didn’t do more. The car radio just kept saying stay out of the area but I wish I would not have listened to them….I wish I could have done more…so much more… – Sally Steele #vegasstrong #lasvegasshooting