By Kelly Marmo
On Oct. 1, UNLV student Taylor Wicks joined friends at the Route 91 Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, where country artists like Jason Aldean took the stage until gunshots suddenly struck the crowd.
Almost immediately, media began covering the attack sharing as much information they knew as the night went on. At that time, concert goers were unaware of what was going on and where the shots were coming from.
“People thought the first round of gunshots were fireworks and the crowd was cheering,” said Wicks. “More gunshots went off and a bullet hit the stage; the lights and speakers started flickering, and then by the third round of gunshots people started to panic.”
Wicks’ initial reaction to the chaos was to call her mom, who earlier planned on joining her at the festival. Jamie Tavernini, a friend of Wicks, stood next to a woman who was struck by a bullet. Tavernini and Wicks did what they could to help the woman and shortly after headed toward an exit.
“The woman fell back on me when she got hit and fell right to the ground,” said Wicks. “When we went to find an exit, I fell and was trampled on by at least 60 people before I could get up again.”
Upon being trampled, Wicks endured internal bruising and blood kidney trauma on her right kidney. As a result of the severe injuries following the shooting, Wicks was given a wheel chair for at least three to six weeks for her recuperate. However, the road to recovery has been both a mental and physical battle for Wicks.
“Taylor is having a hard time with anything tied to the shooting,” said PJ Wicks, the victim’s father. “She hasn’t been able to return to college and we don’t know when or if she will.”
Wicks and Tavernini reached an exit and spent the night in lockdown at the Luxor Hotel from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. During this time, they watched the news to get a better understanding of what was currently happening. All the while, they called loved ones to reassure them they were safe.
“Two ladies were nice enough to let us stay in their hotel room until everything was safe and clear,” said Wicks. “This small act of kindness displayed how everyone came together during this tragedy.”
Although a devastating tragedy took place, Las Vegas came together to help others. Wicks feels lucky to be alive and although she will never forget this day because of the impact it has had on her, she refuses to be victimized by a senseless act of violence by displaying courage and strength.