Route 91 survivor from Dana Point reflects on shooting on eve of anniversary

Sunday, September 30, 2018
Route 91 survivor from Dana Point reflects on shooting on eve of anniversary
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It's been a long road to recovery for Natalie Grumet, one of the survivors of last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

DANA POINT, Calif. (KABC) -- If you look at Natalie Grumet, you might not be able to tell all she's endured in the last year.

"I just completed my eighth surgery last month and it's definitely been a long road to recovery," said Grumet, who lives in Dana Point with her husband.

Grumet's entire left jaw was shattered, her chin fractured in half, the two major nerves severed after she was shot in the face.

It happened at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year. She was with friends and family celebrating a decade of beating breast cancer.

"October first starts that whole month, just a lot of gratitude and reflection for me, I was 10 years remission," Grumet said.

But, in an instant, Grumet and the thousands of others in the crowd at the concert came under heavy gunfire. She remembers being hit right after the first volley of shots.

"I remember grabbing my face and it felt like something exploded on my face, and it was on fire," Grumet recalls. "It was extremely painful and scary."

As she ducked amid the chaos, she could see others around her getting shot, some of them fatally.

"I wanted to believe we were going to be OK, we were going to get out of there," she said. "And as soon as I got up to run, I realized that wasn't the case and there were people there who weren't going to return to their families ever again."

She reached safety at the Tropicana, and a doctor and nurse who had been at the concert helped her.

She was rushed to surgery at Sunrise Hospital. The memories are hazy, but she remembers feeling helpless, unable to communicate with her husband as she was intubated. Her jaw was wired shut.

"I kept thinking, 'Am I paralyzed? Am I in a coma? And they don't know I'm inside?' And I know everything that's going on and I can hear them," Grumet said.

Once doctors stabilized Grumet, she was moved back to Orange County to Mission Hospital. While she continued to endure severe physical pain, the survivor's guilt and emotional pain from learning 58 people died, hundreds of others were injured, was overwhelming.

"The pain was horrible," Grumet said. "And I just kept thinking about their families and my heart hurt so much for them."

Natalie spent 20 more days in the ICU, undergoing more surgeries. She found strength in her family and the new bond with the thousands of others from the festival who were forever changed. She began to share updates with her new community on her Facebook page.

"There's so much power in sharing your story and relating to people and giving people hope is the hugest gift you can give sometimes," Grumet said.

Grumet hopes another surgery next month is her last, but she knows the emotional recovery will take time.

As the one year mark of that horrendous night approaches, she has mixed emotions, but knows she'll be honoring the lives of those who died every way she can.

"While we celebrate being alive, they're mourning the loss of their loved ones still," Grumet said. "And we can just hope we celebrate life and their lives, and their memories are a blessing."