‘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.

Lights FC coach Eric Wynalda lost his home in California wildfire
Eric Wynalda, coach of the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team, talks about losing his home in the deadly California wildfires during an interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 17, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Women face issues from Essure birth control implants
DeVonna "Kat" Normand said she had complications from the Essure birth control implants. Normand uses her Sin City Heat show at 22.3 TakeOver Vegas Radio internet radio station in Las Vegas as a platform to raise awareness about Essure and connect with other women who have used the device. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Truancy and Clark County schools
Tony Stark, one of 23 attendance officers with the Clark County School District, have a tall order tracking down students who aren't in school.
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
16-year-old shot in North Las Vegas
A 16-year-old was hospitalized but was expected to survive after a shooting in North Las Vegas, near Centennial Parkway and Fifth Street, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. North Las Vegas police spokesman Aaron Patty gives an update. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
3-year-old boy shot in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Police Officer Aaron Patty talks about an accidental shooting that left a 3-year-old boy “fighting for his life” on Nov. 10, 2018.
Senior Citizen Carjacking Attack -- 3 Suspects Sought
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the three attackers who carjacked and beat a 78-year-old man near Fremont and east Charleston on Tuesday. (LVMPD)
Henderson Police Department Chief Latesha Watson Talks Change
11-year-old girl shot, killed in North Las Vegas
An 11-year-old girl is dead after she was struck by gunfire Thursday night during a shooting in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas police on deadly shooting
North Las Vegas police spokesman Eric Leavitt briefs the media about a shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead on Nov. 1, 2018. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stephan Bonnar DUI Arrest
Stephan Bonnar arrested for DUI in Nevada.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like