Las Vegas Mass Shooting Survivors Wed on Incident’s 5th Anniversary
Posted on: October 5, 2022, 02:41h.
Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 04:45h.
Robert Aguilar and Rosa Miranda survived the worst mass shooting in US history together. But on Oct. 1, the long-time couple reclaimed the anniversary of the ill-fated Route 91 Harvest Festival as their own by getting married.
Aguilar and Miranda stood near the front of the stage during the set by country singer Jason Aldean when a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort. The 2017 massacre left 58 people dead (not including the gunman) and hundreds more injured.
A bullet pierced Aguilar’s chest, shattering three ribs and lodging in his spine. He was temporarily paralyzed. Doctors later told him the bullet came within an inch of permanently paralyzing him. For 10 more minutes, the couple played dead as the nightmare played out around them.
When the shooting stopped, Aguilar was loaded onto a guardrail and dragged to a car by a group of men. Led by a former firefighter, they rushed him and other victims to the hospital.
Not Their First Choice Date
The massacre’s fifth anniversary wasn’t the couple’s first choice for a wedding date after Miranda accepted Aguilar’s proposal. His mother made that suggestion. After a while, though, the possible healing power of that defiant notion slowly started to sink in.
It’s a day we both dreaded,” Miranda, 41, told USA Today. “We want it to be something positive, something special, something that we came out of. So I said, ‘Yeah.'”
Aguilar, 47, added, “We had to find a way to make that day a joyous day, something to have a better memory from.”
Miranda and Aguilar tied the knot in Camarillo, Calif. “Saturday was the most amazing day of my entire life,” Miranda told USA Today afterward. “There was so much happiness, I can’t even explain.”
Heartening Meet-Cute, Too
The story of how the couple met is almost as moving as the story of when they chose to marry.
Seven years ago, Aguilar was divorced and raising two daughters. Miranda was widowed after her husband died, leaving her to raise three kids alone. They met because they both had daughters on the same high school softball team. When the 14-year-old girls became friends, they hatched a plan to set their parents up.
At first, my daughter told me and I said, ‘No, you’re not going to try to set me up with someone just because she’s your friend’s dad. I can find someone if I want to,'” Miranda told USA Today.
But love had other plans. They were a couple for about two years when they decided to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival together.
Aguilar had to use a walker, then a cane, for years. And the PTSD, depression, and survivor’s guilt they both suffered was unbearable at times. Aguilar, an Army veteran, told USA Today, “There were a lot of days I thought there was no reason I should be here on this Earth anymore.”
At Aguilar’s medical doctor’s suggestion, the couple entered therapy.
“They were just like, ‘You need to go talk to somebody,'” he said. “I didn’t think I needed to. But after a while, it weighs on you. You can’t sleep. You can’t do this. You can’t do that, and it really affects your everyday life.”
Helping to bring the couple’s healing full circle was one of their wedding guests – the former firefighter who helped save Aguilar five years ago. Troy Finnestad, now a close friend, flew to Camarillo from Michigan with his wife.
“They really turned a day that was just horrible to a really fun, memorable day,” Finnestad told USA Today. “You could not have had a better ending.”
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