Couple recall terrifying night in Vegas during last month’s mass shooting

    Vegas Shooting_171

    A picture of Elaine and Steve Arruda at the Route 91 Harvest Festival taken prior to the mass shooting Oct.1 that left over 500 people wounded including Steve who was shot in his left leg. Photo Submitted

    Since being shot in Las Vegas last month, everything has changed for Steve Arruda.
    “It’s a total lifestyle change,” he said.
    “I went from, I’m on my feet with work all day and then I referee hockey pretty much seven nights a week…to go from that to just sitting on the couch…is such a big change,” said Arruda.
    Steve said that his wife, Elaine, has been a huge support for him as he recovers.
    “She’s been doing everything possible to help,” he said.
    “If I didn’t have anybody there it’d be so difficult, obviously she’s the biggest help in my life.”
    Doctors still aren’t sure whether Arruda will fully recover after being shot in his upper left leg at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Oct. 1.
    “There’s shooting pain,” said Arruda who still has pieces of shrapnel from the bullet in his leg.
    He was able to start walking without crutches on Oct. 24 when he received an orthotic support for his leg. Arruda still needs the help of a cane though.
    “My foot’s still numb,” he said.
    He said that doctors suspect that he has some nerve damage, possibly related to the sciatic nerve.
    He is scheduled to have more tests mid-November to determine the extent of the nerve damage caused by the bullet.

    Steve and his wife Elaine were on vacation in Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Festival when they were caught up in the mass shooting that killed 59 people and wounded over 500, including Steve.
    The couple have been to three of the country music festival since it started in 2014.
    Throughout the bulk of the festival they would come and go from the festival depending on who was playing but on Oct. 1 they only went to the headlining concert by Jason Aldean, when the shooting occurred.
    “We showed up at like 9:30, because he was on at 10…and all that stuff went down four songs in,” said Steve.
    The couple were standing near to a fenced off walkway near to the sound and lighting riser as the concert started.
    Like most of the people around them, neither Steve nor Elaine realized exactly what was happening as the first shots were fired.
    “I shielded Elaine,” said Steve.
    They ducked down in place but realized as the second burst of gunfire happened that they needed to get out of there.
    “After the second set of gunshots we’re like, we’ve got to get out of here, we’re just sitting ducks if we just stay,” he said.
    Steve lifted his wife over the first of two roughly five-foot fences before climbing over himself.
    He helped his wife over the second fence and told her to run. From this point on the couple were separated from each other.
    “I said go just go,” said Steve.
    Before he could join his wife running to safety, Steve looked back and saw a couple of girls pinned against the fence.
    “I ended up just turning around…and lifting these first two girls up over the fence,” he said.
    He helped another four girls get over the fence before another burst of gunfire erupted.
    The firing sounded closer to him and Steve made the decision to try and rejoin his wife and get to safety.
    He was shot moments later.
    “I pretty much just turned to go down one of the main drags to get out and that’s when I felt my foot went completely numb,” he said.
    At first, he thought he had been hit in his foot because as he tried to walk his leg was buckling and his foot wasn’t responding.
    When he looked down to check for injuries he couldn’t see any blood or injury to his foot.
    Moments later he discovered were he had been shot.
    “I reached back and touched my upper leg and felt the blood,” said Steve.
    By his estimate all this happened in less than 10 seconds as he continued to try and walk but ended up falling to the ground.
    He took shelter under one of the risers along with dozens of other people.
    Steve was eventually able to make it to the medical tent where he collapsed.
    A make shift tourniquet was applied to his leg, slowing the bleeding.
    After about five minutes, Steve was helped into a wheel chair and taken outside to the ambulance staging area.
    He lay down near an ambulance and waited as more seriously injured people were loaded into them.
    “They were loading people into these ambulances that were in dire need to get out,” said Steve, “I was pretty much stable condition at that point.”
    He was eventually loaded into the front of an ambulance that was driven by an off-duty medic to the hospital.
    While all this was happening to Steve, Elaine had run to what she hoped was safety, initially believing her husband was right there with her.
    “I’m running like the wind but I thought he was behind me,” she said.
    As soon as she realized that Steve wasn’t with her she stopped.
    She started to phone him but kept getting busy signals.
    Eventually Steve answered and although he doesn’t have a very good memory of it, Elaine said he told her to keep going and get somewhere safe.
    She ended up going about a mile to McCarran International Airport and took shelter with a group of about 50 people in a small hangar there.
    Despite the relative safety, Elaine was still frightened that there could be shooters on the ground.
    “There was so many different reports of what was happening and how many shooters and where they were,” she said.
    The complete lack of knowing what was happening was the scariest part of the whole ordeal.
    It was while she was sheltering in the hangar that Elaine was texting with her husband and found out he had been shot and was in the ambulance.
    Eventually police arrived at the hangar and said that they didn’t believe that it was safe their and had them get on city buses to be moved to a safer location.
    Elaine said that police couldn’t guarantee that traveling was safe but felt it was safer than staying where they were.
    After going to a couple different locations, Elaine started calling the hospitals to try and find Steve.
    They were eventually reunited around 3 a.m. in the hospital.
    Steve underwent surgery and was released from hospital.
    The couple flew home to Canada on an air ambulance Oct. 3.
    Since getting home to Chestermere, Steve hasn’t been able to go back to work.
    He is focusing on rehabbing he leg and foot with numerous appointments to go to physio therapy, his family doctor and specialist appointments.
    “I stay pretty busy all week but some days are longer than others,” he said.
    While things aren’t back to normal, the couple are moving forwards and feeling better.
    Steve even said that he would be willing to go back to Las Vegas, just not to a concert.
    Being part of large crowds is still unsettling for the couple.
    “We watch football…the idea of being in that stadium it makes me feel totally uncomfortable,” said Elaine.
    “I think I’ll be hesitant to go to any events for a while,” said Steve.
    Since getting home they have received a lot of support from Elaine’s family who live here.
    Along with all the help they have received from their family, the Arruda’s have been overwhelmed by the offers of support from the community.
    “We’ve had a lot of people from Chestermere who’ve cooked us meals or meals for the freezer…that’s been a huge difference,” said Elaine.
    They are also grateful for all the messages of support they have received.
    “We got so many messages…it’s so hard to respond to everybody…we appreciate all that,” she said.
    “It does make you feel better when you’re going through a hard time,” said Elaine.
    Since coming home to Chestermere, the Arruda’s have had a YouCaring page set up for them by Chestermere’s Angels at