While the deadliest mass shooting in US history was unfolding in Las Vegas on Sunday, a Marine veteran stole a truck and likely saved about two dozen lives.
Taylor Winston, 29, who served in the Marines from 2006 to 2011 and did a tour in Iraq, was with friends near the stage of the Route 91 Harvest Festival when bullets began raining down on the crowd, according to The Daily Beast.
He initially thought they were fireworks, but then saw “people … scattering and screaming and that’s when we knew something real was happening,” Winston told CBS.
Winston and his girlfriend, Jenn Lewis, started running with the rest of the crowd, but got trapped by a fence, he said.
“Once we got to the fence, I helped throw a bunch of people over and got myself over,” he told CBS. “It was a mini war zone but we couldn’t fight back.”
Winston said he and Lewis then saw “a field with a bunch of white trucks” and decided to stop fleeing and start helping.
“I tested my luck to see if any of them had keys in it — first one we tried opening had keys sitting right there. I started looking for people to take to the hospital,” Winston told CBS. “There was just too many and it was overwhelming how much blood was everywhere.”
“We went back towards the gunfire and just started look for priority victims and people with the most serious injuries to get to the hospital,” he told KGTV in San Diego, his hometown.
While the bullets were still flying, Winston pulled the truck up to a “make-shift hospital,” which his other friends had set up out of sight of the gunman, “and they started loading us up with the most critical injured,” he told CNN.
“No ambulances were immediately available. There was far too many causalities for anyone to handle. Probably one of the hardest parts was leaving everyone behind that I couldn’t fit in who were still critical injured,” he said.
After Winston and Lewis took the first load of victims to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, they went back a second time.
Winston told The Daily Beast that they rescued 10 to 15 people in each trip, even later learning he saved a friend’s sister.
“I was in such a speedy movement I didn’t assess anyone’s faces or anything,” Winston told The Daily Beast. “Just wounds and who was most critical. I was just trying to be efficient and get the most serious critical condition people to the hospital first.”
He also told The Daily Beast that he doesn’t know how many of those he rescued survived.
“I can’t be for certain. There’s a few that I don’t think probably made it,” he told The Daily Beast. “They were pretty limp when we were pulling them out of the truck, but they still had a pulse, so I’m hoping for the best.”
“I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation. We needed to get them out of there regardless of our safety,” Winston told CBS.
Many on social media have since described him as a hero, which Winston humbly denies. “There’s a lot of unsung heroes that day that stood up and helped people,” he told KGTV.
“One of the hardest parts was leaving everyone behind that I couldn’t fit in,” says veteran who stole a truck to drive victims to hospital pic.twitter.com/1LGcoil1xn
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) October 4, 2017
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