Dozens of stories of heroism have emerged amid the horrifying mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Authorities say that at least 59 are dead and 527 are injured after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
But the number of casualties could have been much higher had it not been for the brave few that helped first responders tend to the wounded.
From a firefighter who was shot while performing CPR on a wounded woman to a man who saved his friend from bleeding to death to the ex-marine that stole a truck to transport victims to the hospital – several civilians became overnight heroes.
Sonny Melton, 29, a nurse from Tennessee, was one of the first victims named and one of the first heroes identified.
Melton’s wife Heather, a surgeon, who was with him watching Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, says her brave and selfless husband died saving her life.
‘He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,’ she told WSMV. ‘I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.’
The couple lived in Big Sandy, Tennessee, where Melton worked as a registered nurse in an emergency room and ICU at Henry County Medical Center.
His wife works at the hospital and he aided her in the operating room. They married in 2016.
‘We were the couple that never should have met, fallen in love or had a future together….but life is funny and we believe God brought us together as soul mates,’ read their wedding page on The Knot.
‘We have shared amazing times together and nearly unbearable heartaches but through it all we have grown stronger in our love for each other and our families.’
Off-duty Arizona firefighter and father-of-three Kurt Fowler was shot in the leg while protecting his wife, Trina, from gunfire.
Fowler was hit in the right ankle while lying on top of his wife to protect her, Erickson and Desert Hills fire captain and union president Steve Bunn told CBS 5.
Friends of his on Facebook reported that his tibia and fibula were both likely shattered.
According to a GoFundMe account set up by friends, Fowler underwent surgery, which was successful, but he now faces extensive recovery and rehab that could range from seven to ten months before he can return to work.
So far, $10,815 has been raised out of a $50,000 goal.
‘Kurt is a very devoted family man. Good father, good husband,’ Bunn said.
‘Everything he does is oriented around his wife and kids. Good firefighter. He’s well-liked here. He’s one of our brothers, and we’re doing the best we can to support him and his family.’
Retired teacher Mike Cronk braved gunfire and used his shirt to stop the bleeding of his friend, Ron, who was shot three times in the chest.
‘We slid him under the stage. Another awesome lady came over and compressed,’ Cronk, who was in Las Vegas for his 48th birthday, told ABC 13.
Cronk and other uninjured festival-goers then carried his friend to a regular civilian pickup truck that had three injured people already in it to transport them to the hospital.
One of those four wounded died, but Cronk’s best friend survived.
‘I’m no hero,’ Cronk said. ‘But there’s a lot of heroes out there.’
Mark McCurdy and his wife, Kelly Presten McCurdy, from California, were in Las Vegas for the festival when the gunfire erupted.
In the chaos, Kelly’s sister, Jessi Presten, was shot.
McCurdy, a Los Angeles fire captain and father of young children, managed to carry Presten back to the their room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
The firefighter then went back out to see if anyone else needed help before calling for help so Presten could be taken to Sunrise Hospital, Kelly’s cousin, Mike Brown, told The Daily Beast.
Brown picked up a friends of his cousin not too far away. One of them, a Glendale firefighter named Steve Keys, was bleeding.
‘He said: “Yeah, I got shot”,’ Brown said.
‘He lifts his shirt up. He was shot in the chest. He said: “I’ll be fine”.’
Brown examined the firefighter and saw that he had a graze wound extending from his chest to his stomach and learned he had been performing CPR on a woman at the concert venue when he was shot.
In a post on Facebook showing his wound, Keys asked for prayers.
‘Prayers needed. Lot of people hit. A lot killed. Was doing CPR on a woman in the concert when I got grazed. I’m ok. But a lot of people aren’t,’ he wrote.
‘I am lucky. Stayed behind on the street to help people. Worked along side a lot of f****** heroic men and women. Please, please, please say prayers.’
Former Marine Taylor Winston, 29, and his friend, Jenn Lewis, sprung into action to try and save lives during the shooting.
At first, Winston was helping people over a fence as they fled the bullets raining down on the crowd. Eventually, he and others tore down the fence.
Then, Winston and Lewis found an unattended truck near the venue with keys still inside and used it to transport victims to the hospital.
‘Jenn and I luckily found a truck with keys in it and started transporting priority victims to the hospital and made a couple trips and tried to help out the best we could until more ambulances could arrive,’ Winston told The Daily Beast.
In two trips, Winston and Lewis were able to transport approximately two dozen people to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center.
The friends were able to flag down a squad car while en route to the hospital, and the officer turned on the vehicle’s flashers to escort them through traffic.
Jonathan Smith, 30, was in Las Vegas celebrating the 43rd birthday of his brother, Louis Rust, a big country music fan, when Paddock opened fire on the crowd.
According to the Washington Post, Smith, a copy machine repairman, looked around for his family – but they had all disappeared with his brother.
Seeing several festival attendees hiding behind a sheriff patrol car at the northwest edge of the concert lawn he decided to get them to safety.
‘Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run!’ he shouted, grabbing people and moving them toward a handicapped parking area away from the lawn with rows of vehicles to hide behind.
Smith estimates he directed about 30 people but it was when he stood up to urge a few young girls who weren’t fully hidden to get to the ground when a bullet struck him in the neck.
He has a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung. Doctors are laving the bullet in his neck for the time being, fearing that moving it might cause more damage.
‘I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,’ Smith told the newspaper.
Many have praised Smith as a hero, but it’s a title he doesn’t see as fit.
‘I don’t see myself that way,’ he said. ‘I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.’
The first thought on Carly Krygier’s mind was to protect her four-year-old daughter.
‘We just heard what we thought were fireworks. It took everyone a couple of seconds to realize it wasn’t…So I put the baby on the ground and got on top of her,’ she told CNN.
When there was a break in the gunfire, she ran to the bleachers and then to the Tropicana hotel. Her daughter did not scream or cry during the shooting, she said.
‘She was amazing and so incredibly brave,’ Krygier said.
Lindsay Padgett said what she originally thought were pyrotechnics during Jason Aldean’s performance on the final night of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival were gunshots.
Padgett said that as soon as the sound of gunshots subsided, she and her fiancé, Mike Jay, went to get her truck from a parking lot across the street from the venue.
‘We realized there were people everywhere that needed help and on stretchers…People saw that we had a truck, so we said, “Fine, yeah”, and started to pack everyone in,’ she told ABC News.
The couple filled Padgett’s truck with five wounded victims and five others who were caring for the injured.
‘We were just trying to get people to the hospital. We got halfway there, and as we were getting on the freeway, we saw an ambulance stopped, so we went over and they started taking the most critical people and putting them in the ambulance,’ Padgett said.
One of the men in her truck, who Padgett said was shot in the back, was taken out by paramedics, who told her he had died.
Among the other victims in her truck, Padgett said, one man suffered a bullet to the chest, and one girl was shot in the leg.