The glittering, iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is often an exciting checkpoint upon arrival. A pile of teddy bears, flowers and flags placed underneath it, however, dulled its shine.
Going to the Las Vegas shooting memorial served as a reminder for 19-year-old Cal State Fullerton student Jaclyn Davis of the tragic events she experienced on Oct. 1.
“We didn’t even talk. I looked over at both of them, and they had tears coming down their faces, and I had tears coming down my face, but we didn’t really say anything. It was just extremely surreal, just kind of unbelievable,” said Jaclyn’s mother, Audra Davis.
Jaclyn initially didn’t want to go, but went back one month later in hopes of finding some type of closure. When she got there, she said it was hard to feel at ease with all the crosses and flowers placed in honor of the 58 people who had died.
Everything just reminded her of that night.
Jaclyn was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival with her parents, Audra and Todd Davis, her sister Ashley, and some family friends. They were having a good time at the festival, dancing while enjoying the music.
Around 10:08 pm, she heard a noise that she, like many other people, assumed to be fireworks. The next thing she heard was somebody shouting “get to the ground” and “gunshots, gunshots, gunshots.” Then she heard her parents telling her to just run.
“Am I going to survive this?” Jaclyn said she thought amid the chaos. “When it’s something like that that’s going on, you don’t necessarily think ‘Who’s around? What’s going on?’ You just think, ‘Am I going to live?’”
She also got separated from her mother and the two couldn’t find each other until roughly 4:30 or 5 in the morning.
“Jaclyn was hysterical, Ashley was hysterical, I was hysterical, but then we all realized that we were OK, so we kind of calmed down at that point,” Audra said.
Intrusive memories, flashbacks of the traumatic events and upsetting dreams now follow Jaclyn. She tends to avoid attending places that might serve as a reminder.
“It definitely changed a lot for me. I am a huge Disney person and I love to go out and experience that kind of crowd and the fireworks and everything,” Jaclyn said. “I was there a couple days ago, and the firework show went off and it just took me back to that moment in Vegas. It was just super hard because it sounded exactly the same and that’s the part that was just the scariest for me.”
A month later, at the memorial, the emotions really hit Jaclyn and her family as they drove by the site of the festival. The area was still blocked off, the stage and bulletin board of performers still up and police still present as well.
Jaclyn’s sister, on the other hand, said she felt more angry regarding the situation. Ashley was upset that her whole family had to go through something that was completely out of their control. She couldn’t process how so many lives were changed forever because of the actions of one man.
Ashley also felt a little guilty for surviving something so terrible, but going to the Healing Garden at the memorial helped her cope.
“It wasn’t closure, but I felt a lot better. I didn’t have that anger that I had when I went,” Ashley said.
When Jaclyn relives the tragedy, she said her and her family sit down, talk it out and take deep breaths.
“I’m hoping that this is just something that we just have to slowly go and transition through and take in and look back at it as something that we’re grateful that we’re still here to talk about but yet, can put behind us,” Audra said.
Now looking back, a little over two months later, Jaclyn said she is in a better state of mind.
“My thoughts now are that I’m definitely thankful to be alive with my family,” Jaclyn said. “It was a very scary experience and I’m never really going to get over the entire situation, but I’ll definitely get through it.”