TEEN SUR­VIVOR WANTS TO MEET HIS SA­MAR­I­TAN

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ray Brewer A ver­sion of this story was posted on lasve­g­as­sun.com.

Nick Camp­bell’s first phone call was to his dad. ¶ “He called me around 10 and said, ‘Dad, I got shot,’” Jeff Camp­bell said. “I said, ‘Nick, stop.’ I thought he was jok­ing. Then I heard all of the com­mo­tion and the scream­ing. I told him, ‘Stay on the line; stay on the line.’ But he hung up and texted me that it hurt too much to talk.”

Nick, a 16-year-old from Hen­der­son, is one of the nearly 500 peo­ple in­jured in Sun­day’s mass shoot­ing at a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val on the Las Ve­gas Strip. A gun­man opened fire from a 32nd floor room at Man­dalay Bay, show­er­ing the crowd of 22,000 with bul­lets and killing 58. One of those bul­lets ripped through Nick’s right shoul­der.

If the bul­let trav­eled two inches to the left, he gets shot in the head and is killed. Two inches to the right, it hits his girl­friend, with whom he at­tended all three days of Route 91. She wasn’t harmed.

“I feel ex­tremely lucky. I re­ally do,” Nick says.

That for­tune wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out a good Sa­mar­i­tan who helped stop the bleed­ing from Nick’s wound and car­ried him out of the fes­ti­val grounds for trans­porta­tion to Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter. Nick doesn’t know his name and only has a de­scrip­tion — “prob­a­bly in his 20s, tan, pos­si­bly Hawai­ian and buff.” The fam­ily be­lieves he is for­mer mil­i­tary and they are de­ter­mined to lo­cate him to ex­press their grat­i­tude.

When the shots first started, Nick thought it was fire­works as part of Ja­son Aldean’s per­for­mance. About three min­utes into the es­ti­mated nine min­utes of shoot­ing, Nick was hit.

The bul­let went through his shoul­der, cracked two ribs and col­lapsed his lung. Ini­tially, the pain was man­age­able be­cause of his adren­a­line. He helped his girl­friend climb a pil­lar to safety near the stage but couldn’t make it over him­self be­cause of the in­jury.

So he lay be­neath a dead woman, fig­ur­ing the shooter — who he didn’t re­al­ize was perched over­head — wouldn’t again tar­get the de­ceased.

“It was chaos. Dead bod­ies ev­ery­where,” Nick said. “Women were run­ning around and cry­ing. The guys were try­ing to get peo­ple out of the way.”

That’s when he heard the voice of the good Sa­mar­i­tan ask­ing if he was hit. The man quickly took the strings from Nick’s back­pack, ty­ing them around the teen’s shoul­der to stop the

bleed­ing. He scooped Nick above his shoul­der and car­ried him to a row of ride-shar­ing ve­hi­cles wait­ing for the con­cert to end. Within a mat­ter of sec­onds, the man was sprint­ing back into the grounds look­ing for more wounded.

Nick wound up los­ing a third of his blood, mean­ing the man’s quick think­ing likely saved his life. He hasn’t seen him since.

The Uber ride to the hos­pi­tal in­cluded an­other wounded man — a for­mer sol­dier who was shot in the leg — and his wife, who took Nick’s cell­phone and called his par­ents. The com­posed cou­ple eased the trauma for both Nick and his par­ents.

He also hasn’t seen them since the ride ei­ther, only know­ing the wife’s name, Wendy.

“They were more wor­ried about me (than them­selves),” Nick said of the cou­ple.

Nick’s par­ents ar­rived at UMC be­fore he did. But hos­pi­tal staff, pre­par­ing for mass ca­su­al­ties to ar­rive, weren’t al­low­ing peo­ple in.

Nick, who is be­lieved to be the youngest vic­tim of Sun­day’s shoot­ing, was im­me­di­ately seen by med­i­cal per­son­nel in a hall­way. It was de­ter­mined he needed a tube in­serted into his chest to ex­pand his lungs and help with breath­ing, which he says was the most painful part of the process — even worse than be­ing shot.

“They cut me open with the scalpel. No pain medicine,” he said. “I asked the guy how he did it. He said he put his whole hand (in my chest).”

He didn’t re­quire surgery be­cause the bul­let hit his rib and shat­tered. He was re­leased by Fri­day and is ex­pected to make a full phys­i­cal re­cov­ery.

Men­tally, though, the wounds won’t heal as fast. He kept the hos­pi­tal-room tele­vi­sion off the news be­cause of the con­stant cov­er­age of the shoot­ing, and he was hav­ing a hard time sleep­ing be­cause it’s easy to re­live the tragedy.

“You can tell he is start­ing to feel it, es­pe­cially at night,” Jeff Camp­bell said. “Re­al­ity is start­ing to set in. He’s not one to reach out for help, but he’s asked for a (ther­a­pist).”

Nick is only al­lowed two vis­i­tors at a time in his room. Tues­day night, 30 class­mates from Coron­ado High School showed up. They vis­ited in pairs for four hours, each bring­ing gifts and much-needed moral sup­port.

“I was ex­hausted,” Nick joked.

He qual­i­fied for re­gion­als last spring in track dur­ing his fresh­man sea­son and also played on the ninth-grade bas­ket­ball team. Bas­ket­ball coach Jeff Kauf­man says there’s some­thing about Nick’s spirit that’s con­ta­gious with team­mates, ex­plain­ing why so many from his sup­port sys­tem have been reg­u­lar vis­i­tors at UMC.

“Very out­go­ing kid. Very hard-nosed kid,” Kauf­man said. “He is one of those kids we put on the floor be­cause he is scrappy and the kid bangs. He’s got that bull­dog per­son­al­ity.”

The tragedy will cut into his sopho­more sea­son of bas­ket­ball, which be­gins with try­outs in Novem­ber. Nick was wor­ried he would be left off the team, es­pe­cially since he’s also re­cov­er­ing from an ACL surgery in the spring, but Kauf­man is one of his big­gest fans and mes­saged ear­lier in the week, “We’ll have a jer­sey wait­ing for you.”

The fam­ily, too, has been flooded with mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment — many from peo­ple they hadn’t talked to in years and who live out of state.

The in­ci­dent was the largest mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory. It will go down as one of the coun­try’s worst days along other tragic events of mass deaths, such as the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. That day — Sept. 11, 2001 — also has sig­nif­i­cance in Nick’s life. It’s the day he was born.

Nick knows he’ll be asked re­peat­edly to re­hash what tran­spired in Las Ve­gas. When he gives his story, he’d like to in­clude more about the Sa­mar­i­tan who car­ried him to safety.

“I would like to meet you, talk to you some­day and fig­ure out your name,” he said.

L.E. BASKOW

Nick Camp­bell, 16, re­cov­ers Wed­nes­day at Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter from a gun­shot wound he re­ceived Oct. 1 dur­ing the mass shoot­ing at the Route 91 Har­vest Fes­ti­val. Camp­bell has had con­stant vis­its from fam­ily and friends wish­ing him well and a speedy re­cov­ery.

PHO­TOS BY L.E. BASKOW

Jeff Camp­bell, above, speaks about his son Nick Camp­bell, 16, left, who is re­cov­er­ing from a gun­shot wound he re­ceived Oct. 1 dur­ing the mass shoot­ing at the Route 91 Har­vest fes­ti­val.

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