SEBASTAPOL (KPIX 5) — A woman from Sonoma County who helped victims get to a hospital with her husband after Sunday’s massacre on the Las Vegas Strip on Tuesday talked about her harrowing ordeal.
Survivor Jennifer McGrath told KPIX 5 the videos of the bloody scene at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night don’t come close to what it was really like.
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“It was trauma and horror. It was just terror,” remembered McGrath. “And the videos they don’t they see people scared, but they don’t show the horror of it all.”
McGrath and her husband Justin have attended every single Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas since it launched five years ago. She took video during Jason Aldean’s set moments before Sunday’s shooting took place.
“Then my husband pushes me down and, as he pushes me down, I see Jason Aldean run off the stage,” said McGrath
She hit the ground and played dead as the gunfire continued.
They hid on the ground for what McGrath said felt like hours, waiting for the gunfire to stop.
“We’re the only ones left lying in the field and I just kept thinking, ‘If we move they’re going to know,'” said McGrath
During a pause in the gunfire, McGrath and her husband saw that the woman next to them had been struck in the chest. He administered CPR in an attempt to save her life before the shooting started again.
“The ‘pop pop’ comes back. We lay down next to her and she’s between me and my husband and I just start thinking, ‘Holy crap, he’s going to get shot or I’m going to get shot,'” explained McGrath.
McGrath said she and her husband laid with that young woman until the gunfire ceased.
“For her family. They can know we were there the whole time, said McGrath. We did everything we could to save her.”
When they realized she had passed, they ran for their lives. Every step brought another horrifying image.
“Remember, there we people under the bleachers in the VIP section,” McGrath described. “They were pulling out dead bodies and hurt people”
McGrath and her husband still followed their instincts to help those who were hurt, carrying the wounded on pieces of leftover fencing.
The couple can be seen helping with victims in video posted on Facebook.
She said most of the crowd just ran for their lives.
“I don’t blame anyone for running. I wanted to run the whole time but I couldn’t,” said McGrath. “I did not consciously decide, ‘I’m going to stay and help these people.’ I didn’t think, ‘I’m going to help.’ That’s just what my body did.”
Next, they helped during the scramble to get victims to the hospital.
“There were cars driving by. We started pulling over the cars and shoving people in the back of cars, saying, ‘Go to the ER! Go to the ER!'”
They survived and drove through the night to get home to Sebastapol. McGrath said the images of her 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son were all she could think of as she laid waiting for the gunfire to stop.
Now that they’re home, they still face a struggle with survivor’s guilt and how to move forward from the traumatic experience.
“My husband he said yesterday, ‘I had one job. It was to save her and I couldn’t do that,” said McGrath. “It’s difficult. It’s hard to transition back into something that’s not the same anymore”
Now she must try to return to normal life with her children.
“I’m scared that when I hug them, I’ll lose it and they’ll wonder, ‘Why are you crying mommy?'” said McGrath. “But I’ll try not to, because I don’t want them to feel the trauma. There’s just no place that feels safe anymore. Anywhere. Anywhere.”