Like so many other selfless people on Sunday night, Taylor Winston didn’t think twice about his own safety as bullets were raining down on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Having met up with friends near the concert stage, Taylor and his girlfriend, Jenn Lewis, had just begun dancing the two-step when chaos broke out.
“People started scattering and screaming and that’s when we knew something real was happening,” Taylor recalls.
With nowhere to run due to the venue’s fenced-in set up, Taylor, Jenn and thousands of others had no choice but to get to the other side.
“The shots got louder and louder, closer to us and saw people getting hit, it was like we could be hit at any second,” Taylor said. “Once we got to the fence, I helped throw a bunch of people over, and got myself over. It was a mini war zone but we couldn’t fight back.”
The 29-year-old former Marine instantly acted on the military instincts that still flow through his blood.
“I saw a field with a bunch of white trucks. I tested my luck to see if any of them had keys in it, first one we tried opening had keys sitting right there,” he recalls. “I started looking for people to take to the hospital. There was just too many and it was overwhelming how much blood was everywhere.”
One by one, injured victims packed themselves into the back seat and the truck bed before Taylor rushed them to the hospital in the stolen vehicle.
“Once we dropped them off, we were like well, let’s go back for round two and go get some more,” he said.
It wasn’t until Monday evening—almost 24 hours after the truck had been used to transport victims to the hospital—that the owner was able to get in touch with Taylor.
In a text message, he told Taylor that all he wants is the key, and that the rest is “water under the bridge.” Then he asked how the person Taylor hauled to the hospital was doing.
It wasn’t until Taylor responded that the truck owner learned just how big of a role his wheels played in saving dozens of lives on Sunday night.
“I took about 30 critically injured to the hospital,” Taylor wrote. “Your truck was extremely important in saving those people’s lives. I don’t know if they all made it.”
Taylor then apologized for taking the truck, and for the blood that had been left behind.
When all was said and done, Taylor made three trips to the hospital with more than two dozen victims from the shooting.
“I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation. We needed to get them out of there regardless of our safety,” he said. “There was a lot of bravery and courageous people out there. I’m glad that I could call them my country folk.”
Ultimately, Taylor, who served two tours in Iraq, knows he’s very lucky not to have been injured or killed. He doesn’t know which of his passengers survived, still he stands by his decision to “borrow” the truck.
Like many others who are being hailed heroes in wake of Sunday’s tragedy, Taylor rejects the title, acknowledging there were hundreds of others who were helping like him.
Thank you for your service Sgt. Winston. Your selflessness is inspiring.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13