Saturday 18 August 2018

'At one point I thought I would never see my kids again' - Irish couple dived for cover as shots rang out

Heather and Uel McCrudden earlier on their holiday in Las Vegas
Heather and Uel McCrudden earlier on their holiday in Las Vegas

Victoria Leonard

A mum-of-three has told how she feared she would never see her children again during Sunday night's terrifying mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Cafe owner Heather McCrudden (49) was eating dinner at Denny's restaurant on the famous Strip during a birthday trip with husband Uel (53) when shots rang out, forcing diners to flee for cover.

Only 40 minutes earlier the McCruddens had been near the location of the shooting, but decided to move further up the Strip as they viewed the attractions.

A gunman opened fire on guests at the Route 91 Music Festival, claiming at least 58 lives and leaving hundreds injured.

Heather and Uel, from Larne in Co Antrim, told the Belfast Telegraph of the mayhem as diners raced to the back of the restaurant and sheltered under tables for protection.

"I think we're still in shock at the minute," Heather said from the couple's hotel, which is located a mile from the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: Las Vegas police stand guard along the streets outside the festival grounds of the Route 91 Harvest on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Police and rescue personnel gather at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Ave. after a reported mass shooting at a country music festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 2 people dead. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A wounded person is walked in on a wheelbarrow as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Medics treat the wounded as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
People react at gunshots heard at music festival in Las Vegas, U.S., October 1, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. @RTBLECKvia REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Police officers advise people to take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Medics treat the wounded as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
People run from the New York New York during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
A police officer takes cover behind a police vehicle during a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
FILE PHOTO: The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 15, 2004. REUTERS/Ethan Miller/File Photo
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01 People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: Las Vegas police stand guard along the streets outside the festival grounds of the Route 91 Harvest on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

"We keep thinking 'what if?', as we had been down at the MGM Grand earlier and were going to eat down there before we changed our minds.

"After the shots rang out panic broke out, and everyone ran to the back of the restaurant and got under the tables or took shelter in the bathroom.

"Seeing grown men crying and running towards a bathroom to take cover, that's when the reality hits you.

"At one point I thought I would never see my kids again.

"At the time we were just going through the motions, and I was thinking: 'What if the gunmen came up the stairs, would you be able to get out of the way, or would you just freeze?' Uel and I took cover under the table with another girl who was having palpitations. All of the hotels and restaurants were in lock-down, so we were in there for a couple of hours.

"The Strip was full of security officers, police, army and sniffer dogs.

"We didn't know if there was more than one shooter - there could have been more."

Her husband, who owns a furniture shop, said the pair initially feared the incident was a terror attack similar to those which have occurred in London and Paris.

"We heard four or five pops of gunfire and everyone jumped up and ran to the back of the cafe - staff, everybody - sprinting down and into the toilet area," he said.

"That wasn't big enough, so we went under the tables. I was thinking: 'Oh my God, this can't be happening!'

People hug and cry outside the Thomas & Mack Center after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
People hug and cry outside the Thomas & Mack Center after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People tend to the wounded outside the festival ground after an apparent shooting on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
A pair of cowboy boots is shown in the street outside the concert venue after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas StripY
Police vehicles block a street corner after a deadly shooting at a music festival (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)
A woman sits on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip
Blurred image of heavily armed police officers running
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01 People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
People react at gunshots heard at music festival in Las Vegas, U.S., October 1, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. @RTBLECKvia REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Police officers advise people to take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Las Vegas Shooting
Las Vegas Shooting
Las Vegas Shooting

"Heather was comforting a wee girl, there was a young lad who was just beside himself, it was absolute mayhem. It was a hairy experience.

"The owner said everywhere was in lockdown, and the police had told him to keep everyone inside. He closed the door and was looking up and down the strip from the balcony.

"We also heard that there was 'activity' in the building right beside ours, which was scary.

"We stayed in there for an hour-and-a-half to two hours. There was no mission that we were going out that door."

After the lockdown ended the couple cautiously made their way back out onto the Strip to hail a taxi to their hotel.

"We weren't able to get a taxi from directly outside as they weren't allowed up that far, so we went to the Venetian and were able to one from there. I've never been so relieved to get into a car in my life," Uel said.

Belfast Telegraph

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