Vegas massacre survivor: 'I feel like I'm still running' - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Vegas massacre survivor: 'I feel like I'm still running'

Samantha Davis pictured in black on the right with her friend Erin just hours before a gunman opened fire on the festival. Source: Samantha Davis. Samantha Davis pictured in black on the right with her friend Erin just hours before a gunman opened fire on the festival. Source: Samantha Davis.
LAS VEGAS, NV (WDAM) -

Samantha Davis can't sleep. 

She has had maybe five hours of off-and-on rest since Sunday night. Every time she closes her eyes she sees dead bodies. 

"I wake up with leg cramps, like I'm still running." 

There is only one thing helping her cope with a night she says changed her life forever. 

A normal day: 

Davis was with her two friends Stephen and Erin Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Erin is nine months pregnant, and had been walking all day sight seeing before the concert. 

They set up their seats in the chair corral and decided to end their day watching Jason Aldean perform. 

"My friends even asked me if I wanted to leave early, but I had never seen Jason Aldean perform and I really wanted to," Davis said. 

Stephen decided to go to the front of the stage to get a better view, but she and Erin decided to stay back. 

"We were just sitting there when the first round went off," Davis said. 

She turned to Erin and asked if what she heard was gunshots. 

"She told me to calm down, that it was just fireworks. I looked up toward Mandalay Bay, but I didn't see any fireworks." 

Then another round of shots rang in her ears. 

"That's when Jason ran from the stage," Davis said. "Everyone was really confused, and no one moved at first. But then they turned on the lights and lit up the audience."

This was a move Davis said helped Stephen Paddock, the gunman named in the shooting, injure and kill as many as he did. 

Fight or Flight: 

Davis began to shut down. 

She said everyone around her started panicking except one person, her friend Erin. 

"I told her we had to go, we had to run," Davis said. "I couldn't get her to understand the severity of the situation."

Davis said people around them started running, and the gunshots seemingly felt like they were coming from everywhere. 

"My body shut down, and I couldn't get Erin to believe me so I had to run without her." 

Davis said leaving Erin is still one of the hardest things weighing on her despite everything that happened. 

"We were sitting ducks."

Run: 

Davis said she began her mile and a half run each time there was a pause from the gunfire. 

She didn't know where to go, but she only knew of one exit. That exit happened to be at the front of Mandalay Bay where the gunman was sitting 32 stories above her.  

"I ran towards the back of the venue, but then people started screaming at me don't go that way, don't go over there.'" 

So she changed her path. That's when a stranger pulled her to the ground and told her to crawl.

"I could feel gun shots whizzing past my feet," Davis said. 

She finally decided to run towards some food trucks where she saw a medic crouching on the ground. 

"I thought if anywhere is safe, it would be there." 

What she didn't realize was that the medic wasn't crouching to hide, he was working on a body. 

"I had to jump over her body to get to safety," Davis said. 

Once she cleared the food trucks, she began to see the carnage. 

"I passed a truck that was picking up bodies," Davis said. "I just had to keep running."

Davis somehow found a way out and ran into the street. She said she ran for another mile before a security guard at the Hooters Hotel ushered her inside. 

Strangers and a Safe Haven: 

Davis was finally safe, but she hadn't realized it yet. 

"There were people saying gun shots were heard at the hotel, and there was a bomb, so I just tried to find someone who could help me," Davis said. 

That's when she ran into a couple who were on their honeymoon. 

"They were so kind," Davis said. "They took me and several other people from the concert into their room where we stayed the rest of the night."

She said the couple wasn't from this country, and provided pillows, water, and endless support to them. 

Davis sat in the middle of their floor with a phone that was almost dead. 

That's when everything started sinking in, and she waited to hear from her friends who were left behind. 

Where's Erin and Stephen?

Back at the festival, Stephen found himself in the absolute worst place. 

He is at the front of the stage where everyone is being trampled. 

"He twisted his ankle the day before and the only thing that saved him was that he was on the further side of the front of the stage," Davis said. 

Stephen told her that people began trampling one another. He found a fence that he attempted to climb, but wound up injuring his knee. 

Somehow, Stephen made it over that fence and found himself running towards the Hooters Hotel. 

"He wound up staying on the ground floor with police," Davis said. "He made it out alive."

Calm through the storm:  

Erin didn't believe anything that was happening. 

"She calmly packed her things and walked towards Mandalay Bay," Davis said. "She even grabbed my chair, and picked up trash and threw it away on her way out."

Davis said Erin couldn't run because she was so pregnant, and walked out the front entrance straight towards the gunman. 

"She didn't register that there were bodies all around her," Davis said. "She didn't understand the urgency. She went into mama mode."

Somehow Erin made it out of the front entrance alive. She walked to their hotel which was several miles away, and made it to their hotel room. 

"She plugged in her phone, called me to tell me she was safe, and turned on the television," Davis said. 

It took Erin watching the news to believe that anything had happened. 

"She literally walked through a massacre," Davis said. 

Finally together: 

It wasn't until 6:30 a.m. Monday morning that Davis was able to see her friends. 

Stephen and Davis left the Hooters Hotel and went to his hotel. Samantha's family came from California to get her and Erin. 

"They picked up Erin from our hotel and met us on the state line," Davis said. 

She and her friends made it home safely, but what happened to her isn't truly over. 

"My family told me to sleep. I tried to take a nap but I thought I heard a helicopter," Davis said. "I can't turn it off. Everything plays in my brain over and over."

Samantha Davis can't sleep:

Davis made an appointment with a therapist a few days later where she learned she is afraid of being outside. 

"I don't want to actually talk to anyone," Davis said. "I appreciate the prayer, but I am not comfortable going outside."

She said while in the waiting room, she began counting the exits to see if she could make it out alive. 

"I had a panic attack in the waiting room," Davis said. "I won't have normalcy for awhile."

Davis works at a Mental Health facility. She knows she needs to go to therapy, she helps those with post traumatic stress every day. But now she has a new perspective. 

"I now see it from the other side," Davis said. "I'm living it."

Moving forward: 

Davis, who pitched for the Southern Miss Lady Eagles softball team, is set to be back in the state in the next few weeks. Her friend is getting married, and she visits the area quite often. 

"I don't even know how I am going to do it." 

She now lives in California, and says she is afraid to travel.  She said the thought of getting on an airplane seems impossible. 

There is only one thing giving her peace right now. 

"I know I am not alone," Davis said. 

She said that as disgusting as the night was, she saw so many people who care. 

"You didn't see black or white or republican," Davis said. "You saw people supporting one another. Strangers were picking up bodies from the street and taking them to hospitals."

Davis saw hope. 

"So many people are going through this. We now have a bond to each other, and that will help me heal." 

For now, Samantha Davis can't sleep.

But she will, in time. 

Copyright WDAM 2017. All rights reserved. 

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