When many of us leave for a vacation, we pack for that occasion. Grab the clothes we need, our credit cards and tickets. Unfortunately, many of us do not plan that during this vacation we may be involved in a mass casualty or even possibly- die.
As many of us know, the largest U.S. mass casualty happened only four hours and 53 minutes away from our mile square town on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Christy Joyce, a graduate of Mineral County High School and the daughter of Rick and Ruby Hamrey, thought she and her husband were going to party and have a great time during their first year at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
Taking the advice of friends that told her it was “so fun”, Christy with her husband, Noah, purchased their tickets in March. The tickets were VIP because as Christy said, “We are too old for general admission.”
Spending time with friends during part of their time in Las Vegas, Christy said that the three days that she spent (prior to the incident) was perfect. There were no fights. It wasn’t crazy. The event had a ton of people from all walks of life, there to just have a great time and listen to music.
On Sunday night, the couple would sit down in their VIP chairs, chatting with other people. Christy noticed that after spending three days with each other, those in the VIP area had formed a friendship.
(She pointed out to the Independent-News that the Mandalay Bay was behind their seats.)
During the Jason Aldean segment of the show, Noah and Christy heard pops, not unlike that of fireworks. Looking around, the couple could not see any lights from the said fireworks.
Aldean continued to play, even though those in the general admission area had begun to go “crazy”. Christy recalls it was just shot, after shot, after shot.
Then the music stopped and the chaos began.
“The people up front were getting hit,” Christy recalled. “People were running. Noah and I hit the ground and tried to get underneath our chairs, as much as we could.”
She compared the sound to that of a “war zone”.
Amongst all of the confusion and sound, Noah took cover and tried to figure out where the shots were coming from. Every few seconds, it would go silent. It was at this point that he made a decision that the couple would run.
And that is exactly what the Joyce’s did. They ran.
“It was calm chaos”, Christy said. “We got out of the tent area. People were throwing girls, trying to get them out of there.”
Once they exited, Christy explained that it was surreal as she saw a cop crouched down behind a wall, with a gun, trying to figure out where the shots were coming from.
“It was almost like a movie,” she would say.
Following Noah’s advice, the couple would run when the shooting stopped and in the bursts of silence, they continued running down the Las Vegas Strip. When the shooting would begin again, they would hunker down.
The Joyce’s had booked a room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, a distance away from where the concerts were being held.
Finally reaching the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resort, the couple found themselves with hundreds of others who were fleeing the confusion.
“When we got to the Tropicana, we hid in there for a while. [Tropicana] employees would leave where they were working. It was so weird to see the empty blackjack tables.”
Rumors circulated amongst the confusion. Rumors of more than one shooter.
So the couple would continue to safety, making their way to the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Here, they took a break and drank water.
Amongst the uncertainty, people all around the Joyce’s didn’t know where to go.
Finally, the two were able to make their way out of the danger zone and was able to text friends and family to alert them that they were safe.
It would take them two hours to finally catch a cab away from where only hours earlier, they were having the time of their lives.
“I don’t know if I will go again. I don’t know if they will even have it [Route 91 Harvest Festival] again. There was nothing that could have stopped this”, Christy explains.
Unaware of what had exactly happened, once the Joyce’s were back in their rooms safely, they turned on the local news. At that time, reports were not too bad and the couple had not been exposed to the wrath left in front of the main stage. “We didn’t see any blood. That didn’t happen in front of us,” she said. Christy recalls that while making her way to safety, she saw many girls that were a mess, on their phones. “I am thankful we could get out, so many people didn’t.”
In the morning, the couple would awake to the devastating news that over 50 had been pronounced dead and over 500 were injured.
“I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was in the biggest tragedy,” she reflects back on.
“We are lucky to be alive,” she concludes.