Even for the people who survived uninjured from the deadliest American shooting to date in the 21st century, the trauma is unavoidable.
Brittany Maldonado, a former COC student who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, shared the story of her escape from the shooting that killed 58 people.
“Everybody dropped, it felt like forever, I had no idea how long I was down,” she said.
Maldonado was right next to the stage where country music singer Jason Aldean was performing.
“My life will never be the same,” Maldonado said. “I will never be the same person I was after 9:59.”
Recovering from a near brush with death has been difficult for Maldonado, and flashes from that night still haunt her.
“In my head I’m just thinking, I’m going to die, I’m going to get shot in the head, and it’s going to hurt,” she said. Shaky footage from her phone recorded people screaming while trying to escape from gunfire ringing in the background.
Survivors of the shooting are using social media to network and support each other.
“I’m not the only person that put out facebook posts looking for somebody … a complete stranger’s that’s helped them,” she said
Maldonado has used social media to connect with other survivors she met at the scene, including the man who helped her escape.
“By the time I turned around and the man that actually helped me get out was telling me and his sister to start running, 90 percent of the people on my side of the stage were already gone,” she said.
“When I had to see the worst of humanity I also got to see the best, I saw some absolutely amazing things,” Maldonado said.
Despite the trauma that may never leave her, the support from other survivors, her family and friends guides her through the long journey to recovery.
“I will take trauma and probably PTSD,” Maldonado said. “If that means that I get to come home and I get to hug my family and friends and my boyfriend and my dog, and be here to struggle.”