LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- For the more than seven months since the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Wayne and Kyla Lowell have carried survivor’s guilt with them every day.
KEZI 9 News Anchor Bryan Anderson spoke with Kyla the morning after the shooting and has stayed in touch over the months to check in on their emotional well-being. Now, as the Lowells return to Las Vegas for the first time, they are sharing details from that tragic night, some of which they hadn’t even shared with each other.
On the night of Oct. 1, 2017, the couple were at the VIP tent as the shooting began from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
“I didn’t even believe it was really happening until you saw the outcome of bullets hitting people, you know, people bleeding and dying and screaming,” Kyla said.
Wayne flipped up the seats to put his wife underneath in an attempt to protect her before setting out that night to help people. Wayne served four years in the Navy and, he said, his dad raised him to help people.
There are three people Wayne will never forget from that night.
“One of the first people I got to had been hit in the chest,” Wayne said of the first person. “I don’t know why I’m not dead from that one because I was between him and the shooter doing CPR on him and he took two more bullets. I could hear them hitting the ground around us. I don’t know if he would have made it had we not been right there, had that happen, but you know, why him? Why not me?”
The second was a young woman who was next to the stage.
“I got to her just as she died,” Wayne said. “You know that was a really tough one for me because she grabbed my wrist and she died and there was nothing I could do for her. That lady’s face will, not haunt me, but will stick with me forever, for the rest of my life.”
While separated, Kyla texted her son, who was not at the concert, and told him that she loved him and that she was proud of him because she believed she was going to die.
“I didn’t tell him what was happening because I consciously thought, ‘I’m going to die here, and I don’t want that to be in my last conversation with him,’” Kyla said.
Later, Kyla made a run for it after hearing a voice say, “You gotta go, you gotta go, you gotta go.”
“I was like, ‘Is that real? Is it God? Is it my intuition?’ And so I made the decision to go.”
She then found cover under a metal concession stand, where she hid among strangers, including someone who had been shot. After hearing the same voice again telling her to go, she and others left, carrying the gunshot victim with them.
“From what I understood, that guy didn’t make it,” Kyla said.
After escaping the concert venue, Kyla called her mom, who thought she was calling to say goodnight to the couple’s son, Wyatt.
“So Wyatt, he’s just like, ‘You gotta find Dad, Mom, you gotta find Dad,’ you know and I’m like, ‘I will, Wyatt, I will,’” Kyla said.
Meanwhile, Wayne was still in the middle of the chaotic scene, and he made his way back to the VIP tent, not knowing if anyone was still there.
That was when he found the third person he would never forget.
There Wayne came across one of the youngest shooting victims from that night. The teen was sitting in shock with a bullet wound in his shoulder.
“His cell phone was sitting on his leg, and I could hear somebody talking on it, but he wasn’t talking to him,” Wayne said.
The boy’s father was on the other line.
“It was a tough one for me because I’m sitting there talking to his dad and all I could think about was, you know, if that was Wyatt sitting there and how helpless that dad must have felt,” Wayne added.
A Marine walked up and assisted in carrying the boy out, who was then put into a car and taken to the hospital. Wayne never learned the boy’s name, or if he survived.
As two hours had passed since Wayne and Kyla had separated, Kyla was concerned she would never see him again, when his phone rang through to hers.
“When he finally got back to me, like that hug, I will never forget that hug for the rest of my life,” Kyla said.
Wayne summed up the experience, saying, “The faces of the people that were down there, that I talked to, that I got to move, those faces will live with me forever."