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Kelly, 23, had only met Sheppard two days earlier, even though they both live in the area of Tehachapi, California. Kelly came to the three-day festival with her parents, her siblings, a friend and their significant others. Her brother's girlfriend invited a friend, Sheppard, to join just a week before, when the group realized they had an extra ticket. The "kids" hung out all that Sunday at their hotel pool and then at the festival. Just hours before the shooting, Rachel Sheppard, third from left, and Alaina Kelly, center in white, enjoyed the festival with thousands of other country music fans.

But she remembers the first round of gunshots and then finding herself frozen after her group scattered, unharmed, and she was left behind with Sheppard. Codemo says he never had time to think. He grabbed Sheppard under her arms, an unidentified man took her feet, and they began to run. Kelly raced alongside them. She watched as Sheppard's arms flailed about, and she held hers above her own head, hoping to protect herself from gunshots.

With another burst of fire, they all fell to the ground to take cover. The unidentified man turned his attention to a new victim, and somehow Codemo -- with or without Kelly's help, no one is sure -- darted off with Sheppard into the unknown. Nearly 6, miles away, Sheppard's boyfriend of more than four years, Jesse Morrow, woke in a Milan, Italy, hotel room. He'd arrived just hours earlier for work. The drill rig mechanic got a call from a friend who'd heard the news from Sheppard's friend -- the one who'd invited her to the festival.

He'd flown to Italy the day before, with plans to propose after he returned. Now, he was frantic to reach the woman he longed to marry. Using the mobile application WhatsApp, Morrow says, he must have called her 25 times with no luck. She was in the medical tent where only a few people were qualified to offer help, says Codemo, who'd carried her there. The ongoing gunfire left everyone in the tent out of reach of ambulances and, he says, stranded "like sitting ducks.

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The tent grew hectic with screams and filled with victims and others trying to help. Some who'd been shot had people with them. Others lay bleeding alone. Some had "parts blown off," Codemo recalls. A woman lay nearby, her leg "split off at the hip. Kelly looked around and grew hysterical.

Codemo was determined to rein her in. Rachel Sheppard says she and Jesse Morrow knew they would marry, but the Vegas shooting "solidified that this person would be my forever. Someone shoved an IV in Sheppard's arm, and Kelly held the bag. After Sheppard's top was cut off, Codemo removed his own shirt, using it to apply pressure to her wounds. He says he used his fingers to try to stop the blood that kept pooling beneath her left breast. Sheppard, still awake, thought of her boyfriend. Kelly had Sheppard's purse and was asked to pull out her phone and call Morrow.

Morrow hung up and rushed to the airport for the first flight he could get. When an ambulance pulled up near the medical tent, Codemo and Kelly rushed Sheppard toward it. It was full, but Codemo pleaded to get on board. I don't think she's got much left.

Coroner: All Las Vegas victims died from gunshot wounds. He held her on his lap in a corner of the ambulance, hiding her face so she wouldn't see the man in front of them with a gunshot wound to his head. Kelly reached out to hold the man's hand. He was dying, and she didn't want him to feel alone.

Sheppard's breathing grew shorter, and she complained about the pain. Sheppard credits lessons from her parents for keeping her present. As she struggled, she focused on her breath to try to stay calm. Deep breath out. Through the nose, and out the mouth," she told herself. Jake Codemo, center, with his friends less than an hour before the shooting. They had a room at Mandalay Bay, two floors beneath the gunman. Codemo could shield her face for only so long. Once they got to the hospital, there was no hiding the gruesome chaos.

Victims in wheelchairs lined the hallways. Through the nose, and out the mouth," she told herself. Jake Codemo, center, with his friends less than an hour before the shooting. They had a room at Mandalay Bay, two floors beneath the gunman. Codemo could shield her face for only so long. Once they got to the hospital, there was no hiding the gruesome chaos. Victims in wheelchairs lined the hallways. Blood covered the floors and walls, Sheppard remembers. She cried and yelled in pain, "I can't do this! The last thing she remembers before being put under was a man grabbing her face and looking her in the eyes.

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More than patients poured into Sunrise Hospital's trauma center the night of October 1. Sheppard's "injuries were very critical and of those treated as part of the mass casualty incident , she was clearly one of the most challenging," Dr. Jeffrey Murawsky, the hospital's chief medical officer, said in a written statement to CNN.

When the hospital looks like a 'war zone'. The tear to her aorta -- the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body -- ran from her upper to lower abdomen and affected the blood flow for her kidneys, Murawsky explained. The surgical repair required quick precision, grafts and complicated attachments.

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Her liver too was torn by a bullet. And she sustained injuries to her intestines and abdominal muscles, as well as a fractured vertebra in her lower spine. She heard that she received 40 units -- "a five-gallon bucket," she says -- of blood. A red scar runs from above her sternum, where doctors cracked open her chest, down to her pelvic bone. For three days, her abdomen was left open so doctors could evaluate her healing, Murawsky said.

Her body swelled as she lay in the ICU. Rachel Sheppard's scar serves as a constant reminder of how close she came dying in October. Doctors predicted that she'd be in the hospital for three to six months, but she was out in 18 days. After six days in a Bakersfield, California, rehab facility, about 45 minutes northwest of where she lives, she went home. Today, her fingers clutch the handles of an exercise machine at physical therapy, where she goes three times a week. She lost 30 pounds in the aftermath of the shooting and, with months of limited mobility, is working to strengthen her core, upper body and balance.

An X-ray picture she pulls up on her phone illustrates some of the toll on her body. Wires, crisscrossed like shoelaces, hold her sternum together. A bullet, since removed, rests near her fractured lower vertebra. Her spine now exhibits slight scoliosis, curving to favor her left side, where she took the shots.

For gunshot survivors, recovery can last a lifetime. She emerged with a dropped right foot and a right big toe that turned "floppy," sometimes dragging and causing her to trip, she says. Using electrical stimulation and resistance bands, physical therapists are working to re-educate her muscles. She also is still grappling with numbness and tingling sensations in her legs. The discomfort makes heavy blankets, even some clothing, unbearable.

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She and Morrow are relearning how to cuddle. I was in Vietnam, and I saw a lot of this stuff," a man getting rehab after shoulder surgery says of her injuries. Determined and upbeat, strong and stoic -- that's the face she wears at therapy and most of the time. But back home, Sheppard allows herself to feel, even though she says she's all cried out.

She can't help but struggle with some survivor's guilt, and the tears fall as she explains. Why am I walking and others aren't? Las Vegas shooting: Lawsuit filed as new questions raised over timeline. Once fiercely independent, she's now terrified to be alone. Loud sounds make her jump. She scrutinizes strangers in a new way.

She's also angry that she and others at the festival don't know how the mass shooting happened. She is among the many who've filed lawsuits in a desperate search for answers.

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She thinks about it every day and would like to see a qualified therapist, a trauma specialist. But finding the right person to talk to in her small community -- and one who will be covered by her limited medical insurance -- hasn't worked out. Sheppard is changed, she knows that, and so are Kelly and Codemo, the two people who were with her that horrific night.

What they shared connected them forever, they say, and the three remain in close touch. By Erin Woo ewoo bayareanewsgroup. Report an error Policies and Standards Contact Us. A man who was fatally shot has been identified as a key witness in the murder trial of a white Dallas police officer who killed her black neighbor, Dallas police said Sunday.

As the U. A passenger in a gang-related freeway shooting was convicted in a plea deal. Two men opened fire inside a bar in Kansas City, Kansas, early Sunday, killing four people and wounding five others in a shooting believed to have stemmed from an earlier dispute, police said. Post was not sent - check your email addresses!


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