‘She’ll have pieces of the bullet in her brain forever’: Las Vegas shooting victim beating the odds

Updated October 11, 2017 - 9:05 pm

The grisly parade of casualties rolled and carried into Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center the night of Oct. 1 is seared into Dr. Allan MacIntyre’s memory. The seasoned trauma surgeon has years of experience dealing with firearm violence, but nothing prepared him for the waves of critically injured concertgoers, so many of them with gaping gunshot wounds to their heads.

“These weren’t people involved in gang warfare and even then we never see so many head shots at once,” MacIntyre recalled. “And they just kept being brought in by pickups, vans, cars and ambulances.”

One of the head shot victims, who arrived in the back of a pickup truck, was Tina Frost, a 27-year-old Maryland native and San Diego transplant who was attending the Route 91 Harvest festival with her boyfriend. A bullet entered the certified public accountant’s right eye and damaged her brain to an extent that remains unclear, leaving her in a coma in Sunrise’s intensive care unit.

Like the 58 people who died and the nearly 500 others who were wounded in the Oct. 1 massacre, Frost was shot by Stephen Paddock, who was firing rifles converted into virtual automatic weapons downward from the 32nd floor of the adjacent Mandalay Bay casino.

Angle or intent?

Even though Paddock’s angle may have accounted for the high number of head wounds, MacIntyre still wonders whether the gunman was deliberately trying to inflict maximum carnage from his sniper’s perch.

“I saw that scope he was using and I can’t stop wondering whether he aimed for the heads,” he said.

Given the severity of Frost’s wound, MacIntyre and the other trauma surgeons working at Sunrise quickly called for a neurosurgeon.

Dr. Keith Blum, who said he saw at least 10 gunshot wounds to the head that night — “and probably more” — stepped in and worked to keep Frost alive.

“There’s a 90 percent mortality rate for people shot in the head,” Blum said this week. “What you’re hoping for are skull fractures, people who’ve been grazed. High-velocity rifle bullets to the brain aren’t easy to deal with.”

Blum said at first Frost wasn’t moving her extremities, leading him to fear the worst. But when she began moving, he thought surgery might save her and she was brought to the operating room.

The surgery on Frost took three hours and was extremely delicate.

Blum said that after making an incision from one ear to the other and peeling her scalp back, he could see the extent of the damage and how it shattered bones in the front of her skull and forehead, injuring the frontal lobes of the brain.

He saw no alternative but to remove Frost’s damaged right eye. Then he removed as many of the bullet fragments and shrapnel as possible and cut a section of bone from her skull to give the brain room to swell.

It was touch and go for a while, but Frost pulled through the surgery. And in the days since, she has given her family, boyfriend and doctor reasons to hope that she will pull through again.

Blum called her survival “miraculous.”

(Las Vegas Review-Journal)

‘Sometimes she hears me’

“She’ll have pieces of the bullet in her brain forever,” said Frost’s mother, Mary Moreland, who flew to Las Vegas from her home in Maryland as soon as she learned the terrible news. “But her vitals are stable. And she’s breathing on her own a little.

“Sometimes she hears me when I talk and squeezes my hand,” she said.

Tina has a growing cheering section for her fight.

Her mother and father, Rich Frost, and boyfriend, Austin Hughes, have been taking turns staying through the night with her.

“And we have family and friends coming from Florida, Oregon, California and New York, ” Moreland said.

Rich Frost said Wednesday that he, too, is heartened by the progress Tina has made.

“I was told 90 percent of those shot as she was die,” he said. “Well, it looks like she’s in the 10 percent. … Slowly but surely she’s making progress.”

He said she’ll need a lot of rehabilitation and he hopes it can be done in the Maryland area, where much of the family lives.

“Having family and friends around means a lot,” he said.

Hughes, who lives in San Diego, said he and Frost attended the concert with several friends from California. Tina and Austin were near the front of the crowd to the left of center stage. They began running when the shots started, but did not get far before Tina was shot in the eye.

Off-duty firefighter aids rescue

Hughes said he lay with her on the ground and took off his shirt to use as a compress to slow the bleeding. Soon after, an off-duty fireman he knew only as Shane came to help carry her away from the stage to a spot behind a car as shots continued to rain down on the scattering crowd.

They carried her twice more, covering about 100 to 150 yards total, Hughes guesses, before loading her into a pickup truck with other injured, which raced them to Sunrise.

Moreland said her daughter, a star on her high school soccer team who continued to play in two adult leagues in San Diego, was at least partially conscious after arriving at the hospital, though “the nurse said you couldn’t understand her.”

Tina’s family has been using the internet to keep her friends and loved ones up to date on her situation.

On Oct. 2, Tina’s sister, Meghan, wrote on Facebook: “They took out a bone from her (Tina’s) forehead to allow the brain room to swell, that will stay out for a few months.”

Her dad took up the narrative on Oct. 5, posting: “Tina’s third night in ICU has been her best. Small, but critical steps, in her marathon.”

Tina’s third night in ICU has been her best. Small, but critical steps, in her marathon.

The same day, her mother wrote: “The doctors explicitly expressed to us that it is very common for head trauma patients to have a recovery that ebbs and flows; we may see improvement one day, then none the next. Once again, we are overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received.”

‘You just don’t know’

Mary Moreland said she’s praying her daughter will make a strong recovery and that she can place her in one of the country’s best rehabilitation centers for people who have been brain injured. She has created a GoFundMe drive to help pay for what are certain to be monumental medical bills.

She also said Tina’s employer, the multinational business services giant Ernst & Young, and Moreland’s employer, WILLCO, a property management and development company in the D.C. area, “have been amazing in their support and helping out in many different ways.”

On Tuesday, she was excited to learn that Dr. Blum had contacted KLS Martin Group in Florida, which agreed to donate implants that will be needed to surgically repair her facial and eye areas.

“When Dr. Blum read me the letter that they were going to do that, I cried,” she said. “I know Tina is going to need extensive plastic surgery and time, but she’s going to make it.”

Blum knows better than to predict the extent that a patient can recover from such a terrible trauma. But neither is he discounting Tina’s chances.

“You just don’t know how far back someone can come,” Blum said.

Contact Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702 387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Crime
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County detectives pursue suspects
A swarm of Nye County deputies, at the request of Las Vegas police, surrounded a hotel room in Pahrump last week to take two fugitives into custody. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Las Vegas judge’s ruling will halt tonight’s execution
On Wednesday Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued a ruling that will halt the execution of convicted murderer Scott Dozier. Alvogen Inc., which makes the sedative midazolam, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the Nevada Department of Corrections of surreptitiously obtaining the drug for use in an execution.
3 people shot in southeast Las Vegas
Three men were shot Thursday night in southeast Las Vegas, and two of them have life threatening injuries. Las Vegas police responded to the incident just after 10 p.m. on the 5000 block of Mountain Vista Street. The investigation is in its early stages and police were unable to describe the suspect or say how man people they think were involved. Police encourage anyone with information regarding this shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555, or 3-1-1
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas police looking for robbery suspects
Two robbers who recently targeted three Las Vegas businesses remained at large Tuesday and police are asking the public to help identify them. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
LVMPD Looking For Robbery Suspect
The LVMPD Commercial Robbery Section is attempting to identify the pictured suspect who is responsible for committing robberies to businesses in the southern part of the Las Vegas Valley during the month of May 2018. The suspect enters the business, threatens the employee with a firearm and demands money from the register. The employee complies and the suspect flees the business.
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead
North Las Vegas police are investigating a triple shooting that left one man dead at 2500 block of Ellis St., on Friday, June 8, 2018. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Life
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like