(LAS VEGAS) — Identical twin sisters Natalia and Gianna Baca were hit by gunfire in Las Vegas Sunday night, and one of their heroes was an off-duty firefighter who happened to be attending the outdoor music festival.
The 17-year-old twins told ABC News they heard what they believed to be fireworks echo around them during Jason Aldean’s set, unaware that the loud noise was gunshots and that they were in the line of fire.
“Someone behind me said that it wasn’t a gunfire,” Gianna Baca said. “So we all stood up and it happened again and people just fell on top of each other, people screaming, there was blood everywhere and that’s when I felt like a pain in my hip and it felt like a boulder hit my hip.”
Her boyfriend helped get her off the ground but they became separated from her sister Natalia in the chaos.
“We were just holding our heads, just praying and holding hands and then I got hit,” Natalia Baca said. Her friend Riley immediately took off his shirt and started applying pressure to the gunshot wound on her shoulder before pulling her up and running through the crowd to a nearby triage tent for medical attention.
Dean McAuley, an off-duty firefighter from Washington, saw Natalia arrive in the tent and instantly helped assess her injury as she began to go into shock.
“Dean was an amazing guy. He stuck with me the whole night and I just give him full props for actually saving my life,” she said.
McAuley sent in a video message to “Good Morning America,” praising her bravery in the intense situation.
“I am very proud of you, and your strength and your ability to stay calm. You were a very bright moment for me last night,” McAuley told Natalia in the video. “I hope someday we can reconnect and I can give you a big hug.”
Natalia, touched by the message, said that his heroic efforts saved many lives.
“He could have not acknowledged me in that tent, he was just a volunteer that was taking his time out of that night and saving people’s lives and he didn’t have to but he is a very strong man and his family should be very proud of what he’s doing,” the teen said.
Doctors said Natalia Baca is stable but she has a tube draining blood from her rib cage. The bullet shattered inside her body near the shoulder, and doctors said they are concerned because it punctured her lung and she will likely need surgery. Gianna Baca was shot in the butt and the bullet went through and out near her hip. She is back at home after being released early Monday.
Gianna said their classmates have reached out and are all praying for the sisters’ speedy recovery.
“Even though we’re hurt, we’re gonna still stay strong through it all,” Gianna said.
“I feel like everyone should be impacted on this and be thankful that we have lives and just keep believing you never know what’s going to happen to you,” Natalia added. “I just love you Gianna so much, thank you and this could have been worse.”
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