LAS VEGAS — When a gunman started firing into a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, an Iraq war veteran from Ocean Beach thought on his feet.
Bullets were flying. People were injured. Taylor Winston saw a truck with the keys still inside in a lot near the venue and didn’t hesitate to jump into action.
“Once we were in it, we decided to go help get everyone out of there,” he said. “Shots were still firing, we had a couple of friends … set up a makeshift hospital on the backside away from the gunfire, and they were pulling people out of the venue. We pulled up to that and they started loading us up with the most critically injured.”
By the end of the night, at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
“It was still quite scary, but we just knew they had to get to the hospital immediately,” Winston said. “No ambulances were immediately available. There were far too many causalities for anyone to handle. Probably one of the hardest parts was leaving everyone behind that I couldn’t fit in who were still critically injured.”
Winston recounted making two trips from the festival grounds to the hospital.
“We took them first round and dropped them off,” he said. “We had help at the hospital to get them all out and get them into the hospital and once we were clear we just said ‘let’s go back for more.’ We went back for a second trip and filled it to the brim of essentially bodies, some barely breathing, and had people applying pressure and trying to help them survive to make it to the hospital.”
Winston’s military training helped him through the horrific ordeal.
“I think a lot of my training helped in the event, helped me keep a cool head,” Winston said. “But at the end of the day, we just knew we had a mission to get as many people to safety.”
A car dealership overcome by the heartbreaking stories coming out of Vegas following the shooting were particularly impressed with the veteran and his rescue efforts.
On Oct. 4, B5 Motors reached out through social media asking for the public’s help to find Winston. Later that day, B5 Motors and Winston were in contact.
B5 Motors offered Winston a brand-new Ford F-150 to honor him and express appreciation for his bravery, courage and American spirit.
“It’s been really hard to even get myself to come out here and accept a gift of this caliber,” Winston said after taking the pickup for a short test drive.
Winston is hosting a benefit Thursday, Oct. 19, at Moonshine Flats in San Diego to benefit the Las Vegas Victims Fund. Click here for details.