Mum, son avoid horror by a day
When Deniliquin’s Debbie Gazzara snapped a photo of an iconic building while on holiday she would never have imagined that less than 24 hours later it would be the site of one of the most horrific mass shootings in United States’ modern history.
Debbie and her 14 year-old son Zach Noonan were touring the United States as part of athlete Zach’s two-week cross country running tour, which saw the pair stay in Las Vegas from Friday, September 22 to Saturday, September 27.
The shooting — which killed 58 people and injured another 489 — took place on Sunday, September 28.
According to authorities, the gunman fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at people at a music festival below.
When talking to the Pastoral Times on Wednesday, Debbie said she could still hardly believe what had happened the day after they departed a dream stay in Las Vegas.
‘‘My heart breaks for everyone who suffered,’’ Debbie said.
‘‘We drove past the day before when they were setting up the festival and I actually took a photo of the building (Mandalay Bay Resort) because I thought it was so beautiful.
‘‘It’s quite eerie — where it happened was right near an airport and the welcome to Las Vegas sign, so there would have been people everywhere.
‘‘He (the gunman) would’ve been staying at the Mandalay Resort the entire time we were there.
‘‘We were staying pretty close to there and drove past the resort every day.
‘‘It’s very, very lucky we weren’t there the next day.’’
After leaving Las Vegas, Debbie and Zach travelled along the historic Route 66 to their next stop in Williams, Arizona.
It wasn’t until a day or so after the shooting that she and Zach found out what had happened.
‘‘We didn’t have much time to watch TV and had limited access to the internet,’’ Debbie said.
‘‘One or two days after the shooting I connected to wi-fi and my Facebook page was full of messages checking in on me to see if I was okay.
‘‘I asked one of the cross country coaches what had happened and that’s how I found out.
‘‘We were all a bit on edge after finding out.’’
Debbie and Zach returned home to Deniliquin on Wednesday last week.
While in the USA the mother and son also visited Anaheim, California, where severe bushfires broke out earlier this week.
‘‘It’s hard to believe these devastating things have happened so soon after we were there,’’ Debbie said.’’
Zach Noonan and his mum Debbie Gazzara posing for a photo in front of the famous Las Vegas sign, with the Mandalay Bay Resort building in the background.