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 Steven Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay 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 shielding his wife from gunfire to a man who saved his friend from bleeding to death to the woman who turned her truck into a makeshift ambulance and transferred injured people 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.
Sonny Melton, 29 (right), a nurse from Tennessee, was one of the first victims named and one of the first heroes identified, after he shielded his wife, Heather (left), from gunfire
‘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 Kurt Fowler (left) was shot in the leg shielding his wife (right) from the bullets. Now out of surgery, he faces extensive recovery and rehab that could range from seven to ten months before he can return to work
Off-duty Arizona firefighter and father-of-three Kurt Fowler was shot in the leg while protecting his wife 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.
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 (right) braved gunfire and used his shirt to stop the bleeding of his friend who was shot three times in the chest. The friend is expected to live.
Retired teacher Mike Cronk braved gunfire and used his shirt to stop the bleeding of his friend who was shot three times in the chest.
‘We slid him under the stage. Another awesome lady came over and compressed,’ Cronk told TKTK.
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.’
Carly Krygier (pictured) immediately got her four-year-old daughter on the ground and shielded her as Steven Paddock opened fire on the Las Vegas crowd
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, then to the Tropicana hotel. Her daughter did not scream or cry during the shooting, she said.
‘She was amazing and so incredibly brave,’ she said.
Jonathan Smith, 30 (pictured) saved around thirty people before he was shot at least twice, including once in the neck
Jonathan Smith, 30, was in Las Vegas celebrating his brother’s 43rd birthday when Paddock opened fire on the crowd.
According to a tweet from Washington Post reporter, Heather Long, Smith saved around thirty people before he was shot at least twice, including once in the neck.
He may have to live with the bullet in his body for the rest of his life.
‘I really didn’t want to die,’ Smith said.
Lindsay Padgett (left) turned her truck into a makeshift ambulance to take people to the hospital
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 wer gunshots
Padgett said that as soon as the sound of gunshots subsided, she and her fiance, Mike Jay, went back 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.
‘The ambulance told us to follow them to the hospital with the rest of the injured people,’ she said. 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.
Mark McCurdy (right), a Los Angeles fire captain and father of young children, saved his sister-in-law Jessi Presten after she was shot and carried her back to the hotel room,
Mark McCurdy and his wife, Kelly Presten McCurdy, from California, were in Las Vegas for the festival when the gunfire emerged.
In the confusion, 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 Sunrise Hospital his cousin, Mike Brown, told the Daily Beast.