A California mother-of-two and grandmother has become the 59th fatality of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history that took place during a music festival in Las Vegas in 2017.
Dena Sarvela, of Vancouver, Washington, says her older sister, 57-year-old Kim Gervais, passed away on Friday night, more than two years after the gunman’s bullet lodged in her spine, leaving her a quadriplegic.
Sarvela told Fox 12 her sister’s heart stopped, unable to take the stress of the physical suffering caused by her injuries.
Kim Gervais, 57, on Friday became the 59th fatality of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. A bullet that entered her spine had left her a quadriplegic
Gervais and her two friends were enjoying country music when a gunman opened fired on the crowed from a nearby hotel, sending people running for their lives (pictured)
‘She hurt,’ Sarvela said of her sister. ‘Even though she was paralyzed, from the neck up she could feel all the pain.’
The sister said the shooting took away Gervais’ ‘zest for life,’ and for the last two years she had not been the same person.
‘When I saw her, you could just tell. She was done,’ said Sarvela.
Stephen Paddock committed suicide after unleashing a hail of bullets on the music festival
Gervais, a widow with two grown daughters and young grandchildren, had traveled from her home in Southern California to Las Vegas with two old friends, Dana Smith and Pati Mestas, to attend the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Strip on October 1, 2017.
Gervais was in the crowd when high-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock opened fire on the packed venue from his room at the Mandalay Bay resort, killing 58 people and injuring 413 before taking his own life.
Gervais saw one of her companions die in front of her in a hail of bullets, while the other emerged from the massacre unscathed.
‘I’m disgusted,’ Gervais told the New York Times from her hospital bed in Loma Linda, California, less than a month after the massacre. ‘I have all kinds of emotions toward him [Paddock]. Because he took a part of me that I can’t get back.’
Along with the rest of the nation and the world, Gervais wondered what had driven Paddock to commit the atrocity.
‘If you’re that unhappy with your life, why hurt others?’ she asked.
No motive for the mass shooting was ever revealed.
Gervais was a widowed mother of two. Her sister said her paralysis had robbed her of her ‘zest for life’ and made her a different person
Gervais lost her husband, sprint race car driver George Gervais, in a violent crash in 2003 and was left to raise their two daughters, 15-year-old Amber and 11-year-old Alexandria, on her own.
Sister Dena Sarvela said she was hopeful Kim has been reunited in death with her late husband
For years, Gervais ran a business repairing machinery. According to her sister, she was looking forward to retiring and traveling the world before the shooting.
‘Her and I spoke the night before she went to the concert. She was going to sell the business, she was ready to just go abroad and enjoy life, like she should have, and it was snatched from her,’ Sarvela said.
The sister said although she is saddened by Gervais’ death, she is glad the woman has been freed of pain and is hopeful that Kim has been reunited on the other side with her late husband, whom she missed dearly.
Following two scheduled memorial services for Gervais, her sister and brother plan to take her ashes on a road trip across the US.