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'Complete shock': Local family survives Vegas mass shooting

Kimberly Naponse said she's left with survivor's guilt
The Naponse family at the Route 91 Harvest music festival last Friday night. They were also there on Sunday night during the mass shootings. (Supplied)

What was supposed to be a fun getaway for a local family turned into a nightmare after Sunday's mass shootings at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Paradise, a town adjacent to Las Vegas, Nevada.

During the closing performance by singer Jason Aldean, 58 people were killed and another 489 injured when the shooter fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay resort and casino.

It's the deadliest mass shooting by a lone shooter in U.S. history. 

Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation residents Kimberly Naponse, husband Darryl and their teenage sons Conrad, 18, and Waylon, 17, were among those at the festival during Aldean's performance.

They had paid to upgrade their festival passes so they could watch the concert from the rooftop of a nearby building that had been outfitted with chairs, a bar and other amenities.

“I honestly believe that extra $400 my husband spent on Sunday saved our lives,” Kimberly said.

She said she and her husband have visited Las Vegas many times, but their boys had never been. The whole family are big country music fans, so they decided to book tickets to the Route 91 festival.

All four family members attended the festival Friday evening, the two boys took in the performances Saturday evening and they attended as a family once again on Sunday.

Aldean had just taken to the stage and they were having a great time when they heard what Kimberly thought sounded like firecrackers.

“After the first three, my son (Conrad) looked at me and said 'We're being shot at,'” she said.

“I just kind of brushed him off. When those shots were done, that's when the big shots came out. My son just started to scream 'Everybody get down, get down.'”

At this point, Waylon wasn't with his family — he was nearby at the bar. He was able to get to them during a break in the shots.

“Darryl and I were trying to get on top of the boys and the boys are trying to get on top of us,” Kimberly said.

The family crawled to one of the two staircases exiting from the rooftop. They got down just in time.

“I remember being at the bottom of the stairs,” she said. “You could still hear all those gunshots, and they're hitting the banisters, and they're hitting the chairs we were sitting in.”

Kimberly said she's not sure whether or not any of the roughly 125 people on the rooftop with them that night were injured or killed, but prays they're safe.

She said she wants to thank a man named Dan Rowland the family met during the music festival. 

A retired member of the military, Rowland kept them calm and gave them good advice during the shootings and brought them to his hotel room afterwards, as their own hotel room was relatively far away.

“I call him our guardian angel,” she said.

Kimberly said there's periods of time that night she can't actually remember, and figures she was “utterly in complete shock.” 

The family arrived back home on Tuesday, and went back to their normal routines Wednesday. But Naponse said she's left with survivor's guilt, and is planning on booking some counselling.

“Our story is really mild compared to a lot of people,” she said.

Despite the trauma of what happened, Kimberly said she'll go back to Las Vegas. “It wasn't the city's fault,” she said. “It was the man behind the gun.”


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