'WE WERE TWO OF THE LUCKY ONES'
Aussie couple Renee and Chad Cary cowered in fear as they hid from the crazed Vegas gunman
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for Renee and Chad Cary. The young Aussie couple were doing a 24-day t trip across the States to celebrate t their first wedding anniversary.
Little did they realise they’d b be caught up in the terror of the L Las Vegas massacre as gunman S Stephen Paddock opened fire in t the worst mass shooting in US h history, killing 59 people and w wounding 527.
THET FIRST SHOTS
“It’s“the sort of thing you see on TVT but you never think it’s going tot happen to you,” Renee, 28, tellst Woman’s Day exclusively. “We“just thank our lucky stars thatt someone was watching over usu and we were the lucky ones.”
The couple from Spring Farm, 6 65km south-west of Sydney, had e enjoyed a night out at the Luxor Hotel watching magician Criss Angel. They were walking back to Caesars Palace, where they were staying, when the first shots rang out shortly after 10pm.
“We thought it was fireworks from the festival, so we were looking up in the sky thinking, ‘Where are they?’” says Renee.
Soon after, there was a second burst of gunfire.
“We still didn’t really know what was happening, then a few people started screaming that there was a shooter,” Renee recalls. “Even then, because so many people walk around intoxicated in Vegas, we weren’t really sure what to believe. We still didn’t take it seriously, but we followed the crowd back into the Luxor and played the pokies.
“Then we could hear shots again and suddenly hundreds of people ran in. There were people everywhere screaming. We took the elevator up to the rooms to find somewhere safe to hide, and we were walking the corridors banging on the doors begging for someone to open up. At this point I started freaking out and burst into tears.”
Somehow they managed to follow a small group back downstairs, where they bumped into a hotel engineer coming out of the spa. He quickly ushered everyone into the spa lobby.
“I said to Chad, ‘Are we trusting this man?’ I didn’t know who to trust,” Renee explains, her voice breaking. “We didn’t know how many shooters there were, we didn’t know where they were.
“It did run through my mind that this could be it. We went in and sat down and were told to stay quiet and stay down. We all huddled up together and came up with a plan for what to do if he came through the doors.”
At this stage, the only news the couple were getting was from social media reports.
SCARED AND IN HIDING
“We heard that there were three shooters – one at the Bellagio, a shooter in the Mirage and shots fired at New York-new York,” says Renee. “By 12.30am we had no idea what was true and what wasn’t. We were tired and terrified.”
When the group was moved to a room with a TV, they finally learned what had happened.
‘It did run through my mind that this could be it’
“Seeing it on the news, we realised just how close we were to being in his line of fire,” Renee reveals. “We could see the Mandalay Hotel from where we were standing looking up to the sky to see the fireworks. If he had turned his angle just a bit, who knows what could’ve happened.”
It was only once a Las Vegas sheriff came on TV to say the suspect was deceased, and that police didn’t believe there were any other shooters, that Renee and Chad, 29, realised that they were going to be OK.
“When we finally felt it was safe to leave, at about 4.30 in the morning, it was surreal,” says Renee. “There were people wrapped up in sheets and towels against the cold. The strip was closed and there were people everywhere e trying to get home.”
Renee is heartbroken for the victims – but determined the terrifying ordeal won’t stop her getting on with life.
“These things, as awful as they are, you can’t stop living. You can’t not go on holiday, or not go to a concert because you’re scared that something like this is going to happen.”
Paddock broke s the window AND FIRED
Renee and Chad before the horrific events unfolded.
Heavily armed officers move in after the mass shooting.