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Doesn’t sound like a long time does it? That’s only long enough for three songs on the radio.
But on the night of October 1, 2017, 11 minutes seemed like an eternity for twenty-thousand plus Country Music fans at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. An eternity of hearing the popping, crouching down on the ground, behind fences, barriers, tables, or whatever they could find to shield themselves. An eternity of running, hopping fences, dodging running people, standing people, sitting people, injured people, and even dead people. Dodging parked cars and moving cars. But most important of all, dodging bullets. It was an eternity of not knowing what was happening, where it was happening or why it was happening.
In a strange coincidence, it took the group of people I was with 11 minutes to reach safety at the Desert Rose Resort in Las Vegas. Not far from Gate 6 of the Las Vegas Village venue where we ran from the terror. We made our way as quick as we could, but slowly still because our friend has a heart condition and was nearly dying because of the lack of oxygen from running. So close to dying her lips were blue and required mouth to mouth from her boyfriend as we were running and again when we reached our safe haven. After 11 minutes, as we reached the front doors of the Desert Rose Resort, the shooting stopped. The shooting stopped, and so did our lives as we knew them. The next few hours were spent raiding the Desert Rose bar and lobby store for water & Gatorade. Frantically searching for towels, blankets or whatever we could find to stop the bleeding. Turning out lights so nobody from outside could see us in the lobby. After a couple hours we were finally let into a few of the rooms to shelter in place. What now? Was it really over? Are we really safe where we are? Turns out we were safe as the shooter was contained to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Now life is consumed by thoughts of disbelief. Did that really happen? Were we really there? Were bullets really flying all around us? For some people, those thoughts linger as they count their blessings that they escaped unscathed. For others, those thoughts have turned to anger and sorrow. Anger towards the monster that thrust us into our new lives and took his own, and sorrow for the 58 innocent people that were denied new lives. Maybe they are better off not living this new life. For those who bare the scars from the bullets and shrapnel, their thoughts are all over the map. Some of them are happy to be alive, while some feel the guilt of still being alive. Some think about the dead, while others would rather be dead than live with the thoughts and memories of that night. It’s the morbid truth that has now become a part of so many lives. All from a short 11 minutes of terror.
But it’s not all dark and mysterious. From those dark 11 have also come some unbelievable stories of heroism and friendship. Stories that will forever be told and forever be stored in many minds and hearts until the end of time. Lifelong Friendships and bonds were formed. Groups of Survivors have gathered for Thanksgiving dinners, baseball games, fundraisers and yes, even concerts and music festivals. Some have even found love. Some have started movements of love and random acts of kindness in honor of the 58 Angels we lost in those 11 minutes.
It’s unbelievable when you think of it. One monster’s goal to tear apart and ruin so many lives, actually united thousands of lives forever and showed so many people that there is still so much good in the world. Complete strangers became bonded forever in just 11 minutes.