GREENVILLE, Pa. — As one of many generations of first responders, Corry Fenton never waivers in his decision to help out — as an emergency room medic, as a volunteer firefighter, part-time fire medic or as a member of the Elite Ambulance crews.
Fenton, along with his wife Carol and stepdaughter Chrissy Ammer, were in Las Vegas on Sunday, attending the Route 91 Harvest Fest, when the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history occurred.
After securing the safety of his wife and stepdaughter, Corry jumped in using his knowledge to assist the wounded.
Now, after returning from Las Vegas and getting back to life as normal, the Fentons, who live in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, have a survival story to tell.
Both Corry and Carol recall the scene as akin to a war zone. Victims were yelling and moaning, and bodies were strewn about, some with fatal injuries, after Stephen Paddock, 64, perched in the Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, opened fire on more than 22,000 concertgoers on the last night of the three-day country music festival. Using the trip to visit with Chrissy, a morning news producer at a Las Vegas TV station, as well as a vacation for the two of them — who both enjoy country music — they said their trip was fairly uneventful until 10:15 p.m. Sunday.
Corry described the concert as “a party in a parking lot,” like a tail-gate event, with corn-hole games, line dancing and two stages with live music. Also, the venue as a one- to one-and-a-half city-block boxed in location, the home of a long-torn down
Just a few rows from the stage where country star Jason Aldean, the final act of the three-day festival was performing, Carol and Corry said they heard what sounded like fireworks, thinking that a group of kids were goofing around.
“It was all standing room only, and you just worked your way toward the stages,” Corry said. “If someone needed to leave or wanted to go get food, you start moving forward.”
About 20 minutes into Aldean’s show, the Fentons had gotten to about five rows from the stage.
“We heard the popping … and it was to our right,” Carol said. “I looked at him and said, ‘What was that?'”
“And then it kind of stopped, and if you watch the videos, it was going on longer than we even realized or heard … But then when it started again,” she said. “That’s when it had been that same kid who had been to my left, he went down because he had been hit.”
The young man was just a few shoulder-widths away.
“People were getting shot around us, and that was when we realized it was gunfire, and we started getting down — squatting down — and then the sound stopped again,” Carol said.
“I was pushing them down, trying to bury her and the step-daughter,” Corry said. When the shooting stopped, they moved — almost leap-frog style — to escape.
“It felt like an eternity listening to these shells and bullets hitting the steel fence just above us,” he said.
Carol said they were caught in a corner of the venue, at a barricade.
“You didn’t have time,” she said. “There were breaks in between when the shots were coming, but you are trying to collect your thoughts of what is actually happening … You think it is done, and you would start to get up, and then they would start up again and you’d have to get back down.”
During the last round of fire, the shots were going over their heads. They could hear the rounds hitting the fence.
“We didn’t know how close they were, but God knows I was praying,” Carol said, thinking about the possibility of losing her daughter or husband. “Parents are always willing to give up their lives for their kids, but you are in that situation, it is really scary.”
They worked to get Chrissy over the fence, then Carol.
“Once they were over the fence, I was going to go over, because there were people injured inside the fence,” Corry said.
Instead, he ended up working with other concertgoers to help some of the wounded escape toward waiting ambulances, until he could get to where Chrissy and Carol were hunkered down under the safety of the stage, along with wounded victims. He told one kid, “get someplace safe, I’ll be back,” and started assisting with initial triage.
“I can’t not go back and not help,” he explained. “It’s just not in me to walk away from it.”
Corry provided more than an hour of medical assistance to some of the more than 500 wounded.
He didn’t realize how bad the situation was until he went back over the fence, “and there were bodies everywhere — people screaming, yelling for help.”
After getting out of the venue, Carol took to social media to let people back home know that they were safe, and that Corry was providing medical assistance.
“They shut the whole strip down, and were checking hotels one by one because they didn’t know how many shooters there were,” she said. “They started clearing hotels one by one, coming toward us, so we were all in lockdown. … People weren’t gambling any more, they were up in their rooms. I couldn’t believe the amount of security, CIRT guys, but they were coming from everywhere, and they had their guns, big guns.” Corry said each time he went back to provide assistance, there was a law enforcement officer — sheriff, police or CIRT officer — within five or six feet to protect those trying to help.
While Corry was providing medical assistance, both Chrissy and Carol were moved to the Tropicana Hotel for a security check under lockdown.
Around 4 a.m. Monday, as best as they could recall, Corry, Carol and Chrissy reunited and were allowed to leave the strip and head back to Chrissy’s apartment in nearby Henderson.
“People were lying around,” Corry said. “The hotel brought out carts of blankets and sheets, and water. The hotel looked like a cyclone hit it, and we were one of the last groups to be let go.”
“I think this guy really put some thought into this, because it was the last act of the event,” Carol said of the shooter.