Like so many others who were in Las Vegas last week, Mike Dempsey never expected that he would be someone who survives the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
That’s mostly because never in his wildest dreams could Mike have imagined someone shooting bullets into a crowd of people.
But unfortunately, that’s what Stephen Paddock did on Sunday, October 1, claiming the lives of 58 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
From his 32nd floor hotel room of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, the shooter opened fire on a Jason Aldean concert below.
Mike Dempsey happened to be staying in that same hotel. In fact, he was outside by the pool when he heard what he thought to be fireworks. Almost immediately he realized it was bullets being fired directly above his head.
“I was right under where he was firing so that was probably the scariest part,” he said. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this incident could have happened. But unfortunately it could happen anywhere, anytime.”
Mike says he ran through the casino and saw someone who had been shot before the hotel was put on lockdown.
The craziest thing about Mike being at Mandalay Bay and surviving this act of terror isn’t that he made it out alive. It’s that just 16 years and 19 days before the Las Vegas attack, Mike was working inside Tower 2 of the World Trade Center when a plane struck the building.
He was trampled and suffered a fractured skull as hundreds tried to escape. But Mike survived.
Those memories of people running for their lives came crashing back into his mind again in Las Vegas.
“Those are images you can’t ever get over,” he said.
Most of us can’t imagine the trauma of surviving one of these heinous attacks, let alone TWO.
Mike can’t fathom how or why he’s survived two very dark days in modern American history, but he finds solace in believing that there’s a divine reason.
“Maybe God has a plan for me, and I can help,” the father of two explains. “Instead of being angry or upset, I’m going to try to find what the families and survivors are going to need.”
After 9/11, Mike threw himself into charity work, and helping others, which ultimately helped him cope with the with the trauma and survivor’s guilt he’s now reliving today.
His plan is to do the same now. Mike hopes to help the victims and survivors, and to do things that bring good out of such horror.
He can’t understand how he’s still here, but he knows that every day he’s blessed with is another opportunity to help others.