Las Vegas shooting survivor shares harrowing tale of trying to save life of a new friend
It was supposed to be a weekend for fun and country music in Las Vegas for a group of friends from Columbus. Then a shooter opened fire on the crowd of thousands, forever changing lives.
Kody Robertson, from Columbus, was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival Sunday evening when he met 32-year-old Michelle Vo from Los Angeles. He noticed her when he sat down at a bar at the venue, and realizing she was alone, struck up a conversation.
"I made a joke I've been to several concerts myself, by myself as well," Robertson said. "You ever meet somebody and just feel like you've known them for 10 years? It was just an instant connection."
Michelle Vo's family says she was a new fan of country music and decided to attend her first country music festival on her own after friends were unable to go.
Robertson invited her to join their group as they watched the music, and a new friendship began.
They were in the middle of the crowd as Jason Aldean began playing, and then heard what they sounded like fireworks off to the side.
"We both turned to the right, most of everyone around us turned to our right - that's where everything happened. We thought it was part of the show," Robertson said.
Then a second round of shots began, and Michelle was hit. Robertson said she immediately dropped to the ground.
"I turned, tried to cover her up, and then we just kept hearing shots. There was a pause in the shots, and when that happened, me and another person next to her, we flipped her over to see where she'd been hit. She'd been shot in the upper left chest, and she was unresponsive."
Survival mode began kicking in for Robertson, and he says he began thinking about getting to safety. He and the guy next to them jumped over a metal barrier nearby, picking up Michelle over the barrier, and then turning to help others trying to get away. Once most of the crowd had gotten away, he began CPR on Michelle, then picked her up and ran to safety down the road.
"Fortunately, there was somebody with a white pickup truck and somebody in the back was saying 'if there's anybody hit, put them in the back, we're going to the hospital now.'"
After Michelle was driven away to the hospital, Robertson and the other man turned back, running towards the shooting to help other people. Robertson says he never knew the name of the man next to him, but they worked together to help injured people get to safety.
Even in the middle of the chaos and fear, he couldn't stop thinking about Michelle. Robertson says after things began clearing, he went back to the area where they had been, looking for her phone. The two had exchanged phone numbers earlier in the evening, so he began calling it.
After calling twice, a stranger answered, saying they'd picked up the phone as they were running away. Wanting to make sure he could get in touch with her loved ones and let them know what happened, he made his way through a lockdown on the strip to get the phone from them.
"With this situation, and especially with her not having any information...I felt like I had to do something to help her out," Robertson said.
Then he headed for the hospital.
Not knowing where Michelle had been taken, Robertson spent the night stopping by and calling hospitals, checking to see if she was a patient.
While he was on his mission, Michelle's brother-in-law called her cellphone, and that's when Robertson was able to let them know what was happening. The two stayed in contact throughout the night as they both kept contacting hospitals to find Michelle. Several hours later, a hospital confirmed she was there, and then told Robertson Michelle hadn't made it.
"At that point her sister Diane called, and we talked for about a half hour. I gave her a step-by-step of what happened," Robertson said. "Some of the worst part was revealing that information."
With her family already planning to fly in later Monday, Robertson arranged to meet them. After changing his flight back to Columbus, the Luxor hotel extended the reservation on his room, and on Michelle's, so the family would be able to get her possessions.
And then he went to meet his new friend's family.
"They were very appreciative of everything I'd done, keeping them informed," an emotional Robertson said.
He walked Michelle's family through what happened, answered their questions, and cried with them.
"I feel like they wanted to get closure, and it helped me as well, kind of get closure."
Robertson went back to his room, and met up with his brother who flew in from Columbus that night to be with him, before heading home.
He says he's still hearing from Michelle's family, friends. and coworkers, sharing their stories of their loved ones. And he knows he's not the only one who had that instant connection.
"She was just an awesome individual."