SALT LAKE COUNTY (News4Utah) – Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. It’s an anniversary that hits home for a West Jordan woman, Neena Vongthongchit who was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival that night.
A lover of country music, Vongthongchit said she was anticipating an unforgettable weekend with her friends and family at her first country music festival.
It was an unforgettable weekend, but for the wrong reasons.
“Jason Aldean was the last performer on the last night of the festival,” said Vongthongchit. “During one of his songs, we heard the first gunshot. The weird thing about me…when I heard the first gunshot, for some reason, I looked over at Mandalay Bay and I saw a little thing of smoke and I thought, ‘What the heck was that? That’s not fireworks, right?'” said Vongthongchit. “Everyone was looking around, but for some reason, my gut feeling was, ‘We gotta go, guys.'”
Immediately, she and her group ran for cover after realizing what was happening. Vongthongchit said she could have lost her life if it wasn’t for her cousin.
“If my cousin didn’t push me down, I probably could’ve got shot because a bullet flew past my ear, hitting other people,” said Vongthongchit. “It was crazy because people were dying left and right of me and just ducking.”
But even after leaving the festival venue, Vongthongchit said her group didn’t feel safe.
“When it happened, we were just running left and right, you don’t know what you’re running from. Even after getting out of there, we were ducking and hiding behind cop cars, any car. We were just booking it as far as we could,” said Vongthongchit. “It sounded like there were multiple gunmen. There could’ve been people on the ground as well. The gunshots were so loud. It just sounded like it was coming from everywhere.”
She is one of thousands of people who survived the shooting, but the traumatizing experience stayed with her.
“I was so scared after everything happened,” said Vongthongchit. “You can literally get shot anywhere at any given time. Like being at a park, going to eat…anything can happen.”
Vongthongchit recently returned to Las Vegas two weeks ago for the Life is Beautiful music festival. But she said looking back at what was left behind is still difficult for her.
“Being in Vegas was really hard, driving past everything, seeing that the fences are still up and looking at Mandalay Bay is hard. I get flashbacks all the time,” said Vongthongchit.
But as the one-year anniversary of the tragedy approaches, she said she won’t let what happened stop her from doing what she loves.
“Yes. Bad things happen in life. But I feel like you always have to move forward. You have to have that mindset to just keep living,” said Vongthongchit.