Paso Robles man escapes Vegas shooting in wheelchair
Madera County, Calif., —
We've seen the frantic videos from Las Vegas of all the confusion as everyone tried to get to safety. Now, a Paso Robles man is shedding light on the challenges he and his wife faced getting out.
Tuesday was Brent Poppen's first day back to work at Valley Children's Hospital in Madera. Poppen explained how he is grateful to be back at work counseling children after surviving Sunday nights mass shooting. Poppen said he had no idea that shortly after sending a video clip of the concert to a friend that the music festival would come to an abrupt end.
"When I went back and looked at my camera. I sent it out at 10:03 P.M. and the first gunshots rang out at 10:08 P.M.," said Poppen.
Brent has been in a wheelchair since he was 16-years-old. Getting he and his wife Erica out from the disabled section close to the stage was difficult. He says a mob of people ran in their direction and that's when he had to think quick.
"My first instinct was not to get knocked out of my chair. Knowing that would be the worst possible scenario for me... My wife was below me behind the stage. People were trying to pull her away not knowing she was with me. They were thinking, 'We want to get this girl who is panicking to safety'. They were trying to pull her away and she said, 'No I am not leaving my husband who is up on the stage,'" said Poppen.
"There were thoughts in my mind. Do I just jump out of my chair? Get on the ground and slide under the railing where everybody else is at? I just didn't feel it was the right thing to do and be immobile… One of the workers from the concert jumped up on the stage with me and helped me plow through all of the chairs to the nearest ramp. I was able to get down from the ramp and get down to the back side where my wife was waiting for me,” said Poppen.
Eventually, Brent met up with a relative. He says together they were able to maneuver his wheelchair to get past people and debris.
"There was a knocked down the fence and they were able to carry me over the fence to a street where there was a police officer. We were now on the street still hearing gunfire … We were finally able to make it a couple hundred yards through a dirt field and containers. Then down a big side street back to our hotel," said Poppen.
Brent says it may have taken he and his wife over an hour to get back to the hotel. He says this was the fourth year in a row he and his wife Erica attended the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.