Las Vegas shooting: Iraq veteran steals pick-up truck to save lives after hearing gunfire

Ex-marine drives dozens of wounded to hospital after being caught up in festival massacre

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 03 October 2017 09:32
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Taylor Winston found a pick-up with keys left inside to transport shooting victims to hospital
Taylor Winston found a pick-up with keys left inside to transport shooting victims to hospital

An Iraq veteran caught up in the Las Vegas shooting sprang into action to save lives, stealing a pick-up truck and driving victims to hospital.

Taylor Winston, 29, was at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with friends when Stephen Paddock began spraying the crowd with automatic gunfire from a nearby hotel.

The former marine at first thought the sound of shots was caused by fireworks before he heard screams and saw bodies fall to the ground.

He fled the concert with friend Jenn Lewis.

But instead of continuing to safety they commandeered a nearby pick-up, which had no driver inside, and began transporting injured shooting victims to 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,” Mr Winston, from San Diego, told the Daily Beast.

He said they took about 24 people to hospital in two trips, with wounded festival-goers piling into the back seats and truck bed.

He and others including a trauma nurse set up a makeshift triage outside the concert so they could assess who needed treatment the most urgently.

Mr Winston, a sergeant who served from 2006 to 2011, told the injured to apply pressure to wounds as attempted to speed to Desert Springs Hospital Centre "before they bled out".

He fears some of his passengers, who included a woman with neck and chest injuries, may have died.

“I can’t be for certain," he said. "There’s a few that I don’t think probably made it. 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.”

At least 59 people were killed and 527 injured when Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

Mr Winston, who now works as a designer for a country music website, said he was "angry that someone did this".

He was hailed as a "hero" by friends for his efforts to save lives.

"Taylor Winston people were so fortunate to have your guidance during the shooting and for your willingness to take the wounded to the hospital in a truck and for making more than one trip,” wrote Jenifer Michelle on Facebook.

“I know you didn’t do this for recognition but because it was the right thing to do and that’s what makes you such an incredible human,” she added.

Las Vegas shooting: What we know so far

But Mr Winston said he did not want to take credit.

“People needed to get out of there and we tried the best we could to get as many as we could,” he added.

After two trips to the hospital the former marine returned to festival venue on the Las Vegas Trip to find most of the injured had been taken to hospital by ambulance.

He parked the vehicle outside a bar and planned to return it to the scene on Monday morning but it was gone when he went to retreive it.

“I’m sure they saw the blood all over the vehicle and thought that it should be towed,” he said.

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