Former Abilene resident escapes Las Vegas alive

A former Abilene resident who calls McMurry University his alma mater escaped a near fatal trip to Las Vegas.

Traveling with three friends, Wes Tidwell had felt slightly sick before Jason Aldean took the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

 "I left my friends that were up front," said Tidwell. "We were at the front part of the stage where the first part of the shooting started taking place."

His friends, Mike and Kristen McKinnon, followed Tidwell's lead to the Tropicana hotel, a move that made the difference between life and death.

"A mass of people started running coming through the back of the Tropicana, saying there's a shooter outside," said Tidwell. "I started hearing people yell that there are machine guns and people are killing people everywhere."

In the mass of people, the group got separated. In the meantime, Tidwell was helping people where he could and recorded the events on a Facebook live video.

"I'm trying to figure out what was going on and get away from there as quick as possible so I'm helping with escalators, I'm helping people who've fallen," said Tidwell.  "I thought it was chaotic just seeing everything I saw. But, I can't imagine people dying all around me, next to me, people being trampled; I was removed from that part of it, so every time I see a news clip it hits me how much bigger it was than even what I got to see. "

While Tidwell was away, Mike McKinnon was in close contact with a family friend of Tidwell and the McKinnon's, Tamela King, who resides in Abilene.

"It happened at about 1:45 in the morning," said King.

King said McKinnon told her that there was a shooting in Las Vegas and that people were being killed.

"There's a lot of people that are dead and a lot of people that are wounded," McKinnon told King. "I need you to know where I'm at and I need you to know that we're safe."

Despite the three friends surviving the shooting, King said they still have a long road to mentally recovering from the shooting.


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