Natalie Vanderstay, 43, was caught up in the mass shooting Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. She was shot in the neck during Stephen Paddock’s 9 minute shooting spree.Vanderstay, a nurse, was in danger of dying from her wound, but managed to provide treatment herself until others could get her to a hospital.
[Scroll Down for Video]
After she was shot, Vanderstay fell and was trampled by people running away. Knowing that she had to get help, she found the strength to stand and had followed others out.
“People were screaming. And the screams got louder and louder,” Vanderstay told the Daily Mail.
“I felt this force in my stomach and I knew that I had gotten shot. It felt like a huge baseball, just the force of it going through my stomach.”
She was also hit in the leg by shrapnel. “I said, ‘OK, I can’t stay here. I’m going to bleed out.’ It hurt so bad. But I knew I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t ready to die.”
“There were people that were dead. There was a guy, his eye was blown out, and I couldn’t help him,” she said.
Vanderstay had run with her wounds, but she also had to climb a fence to escape the shooting. Once she was away, she found a cab already filled with people trying to escape. They took her in, too, and helped hold pressure on her stomach wound.
As Vanderstay remembers, the cab driver took her to the University Medical Center, which has a Level I trauma center. It was not the closest hospital, but the best option for the gunshot wound.
“If it wasn’t for that cab driver, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “And I don’t know who he is. He did everything to get me here.”
130 of those wounded Sunday night remain hospitalized on Wednesday. Of those, 48 are in critical condition. Vanderstay is hospitalized, but no longer considered critical. She had surgery to close holes in her stomach and colon, but is expected to survive.