New Brunswick

'That split second decision not to go': Fredericton women just miss Las Vegas shooting

Because of sore feet, 2 women rejected free tickets to Jason Aldean and avoided what became place of carnage

Olivia Chandler - CBC News

October 02, 2017

From left, Kim Ramier, Lou Cummings and Kathy Saunders at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Saturday evening. The next night, Cummings and Saunders turned down tickets to a festival where crowds were targeted in a mass shooting. (Submitted by Kathy Saunders)

Two Fredericton women narrowly missed being in the thick of Sunday night's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Kathy Saunders and her mother, Lou Cummings, are vacationing in the city.

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After catching a Michael Jackson ONE Cirque du Soleil show at the Mandalay Bay on Sunday night, Saunders and Cummings decided to walk back to their hotel.

They stopped by the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival and were approached about tickets to watch the final act, Jason Aldean. He was about to begin his performance. 

'I can't believe just that split-second decision not to go — I mean it would have been as likely that we would have been there.' - Kathy Saunders

"As we were standing there listening to the music, a couple approached us, and said, 'We're leaving. Would you like to have our tickets?'" Saunders said in an interview with the CBC's Shift.

Saunders initially said no but changed her mind a minute later.

"I thought it might be worth seeing," she said. "But luckily [my mother] had turned in the other direction. Our feet were quite sore, and we decided not to."

It was only after Saunders and Cummings returned to their hotel, Elara, and turned on the local news that Saunders realized what she and her mother had just escaped. 

At least 59 people were killed and 527 others were sent to hospital after a gunman, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, sprayed the crowd at the festival with thousands of bullets.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Saunders said she "didn't know what to think" after realizing the gravity of what happened.

"He was just coming on when we were there, and the shooting happened during his third song," she said.

"You never think you could go away on vacation and have this happen. I can't believe just that split-second decision not to go — I mean it would have been as likely that we would have been there."

She said she feels lucky she and her mother were already in their hotel because some guests had to deal with lockdowns.

"We were very upset, obviously, and wanted to notify our children and our family."

Saunders said she hasn't left her hotel room and feels people are still in fear along the strip. 

"The streets are basically empty," she said. "Everybody seems to be staying inside."

Saunders and Cummings are to leave Las Vegas on Wednesday.

With files from Shift and CBC News
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