Pardon the tardiness of this post. I was planning to write this to share with you all on Tuesday, but I (as well as many others, I’m sure) still find it too hard to go on social media, watch the news, or even listen to the radio on the first few days of October here in Vegas.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a Las Vegas native. Born and raised. Despite its massive population, natives will say Vegas is actually a small town. Somehow, everyone knows everyone, which, strangely enough, gives this metropolis more of a “Mayberry” feel.
October 1st, 2017, I clocked out at 10:02PM. I left the restaurant and started my commute home down Paradise Road.
As I approached the Tropicana intersection, suddenly I slammed down hard on my breaks. It took a moment for me to realize I was inches away from hitting a person.
But he didn’t even see me. He was running, fast, and away from The Strip.
Visible from this intersection, we looked out at the airport tarmac scattered with frantic, lost runners. Some gathered at the gas station on the corner. I remember there was blood all over everyone’s clothes, but I couldn’t spot a source. It was just all over them.
I’ll never forget the grown man I watched as he paced through the gas pumps with his hands over his ears, screaming at the top of his lungs.
I couldn’t tell you how long we sat at that intersection.
Time wasn’t going faster or slower. It just simply stopped.
The planet stopped rotating, clocks stopped ticking, but the people never stopped running.
I jumped at the sound of my husband’s voice coming through the bluetooth. Apparently I answered the call even though I don’t even remember the phone ringing.
I don’t remember much about the drive home except driving 20mph over the limit and a highway patrolman who changed lanes to let me pass.
The one thing that has always stuck out the most, though, were the sirens.
From the moment I got through that intersection ambulances from every direction roared towards the strip. One after another after another. I lost count before I hit the freeway. The ambulances were so frequent and close together that the entire drive home the only sound was the constant scream of their long, prolonged sirens.
Once home, my husband ran out of the house and caught me just as my legs gave out. I ran inside, grabbed our infant son and held him as tight as I could.
Our family stayed up all night calling friends and family who were either at the concert or on the strip. We listened to police scanners and switched between news channels searching for answers.
We watched as the death count tick-tick-tick-ed higher like the numbers on a stock market marquee as we fell into a light, tearful sleep as the sun started to rise.
The days, weeks, and months following October 1, 2017 would become the most definitive time in Las Vegas history.
Las Vegas isn’t just a bright-light city anymore.
The tragedy of October 1 exposed the true wild west grit Las Vegas was born with.
To our 58 angels, we will never forget you.
To the hundreds of injured warriors, we will never forget you.
To those healing from wounds, both physically and mentally, we will never forget you.
We are Battle Born.
We are Vegas Born.
We are Vegas Strong.