In the crowd’s mad dash to the exits Kristin Babik thought someone had spilled a drink on her.
“I remember something hitting me really hard, and I felt a splatter on my back,” she said. “It felt like a hard water balloon hit me.”
“I didn’t want to believe it was gunfire.”
The 24-year-old University of Florida law student was among the 546 people injured after a gunman rained fire upon the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on the night of Oct. 1. Another 58 people were killed.
Babik came to the three-night country music event with friends she met over the summer during an internship with the Clark County district attorney’s office.
Sunday night was supposed to be an epic sendoff. Babik would see one of her favorite songwriters, Jason Aldean, before catching a red-eye flight back to Florida.
“We were all having a good time dancing, joking around, enjoying the music,” she said. “Then we heard what sounded like firecrackers.”
A wave of panic swept through the crowd as concertgoers realized it was gunfire. Babik ducked, and then it happened.
A bullet entered her back near her right shoulder blade. It broke a rib and pierced her lung before stopping between two vertebrae.
She ran for her life, searching for an exit to safety. “I just remember seeing phones scattered on the floor,” she said.
The festival’s main exit was too crowded. Babik saw some people using a table to scale a fence and followed.
She started coughing up blood soon after.
Babik said she and her friends made it to the Desert Rose Resort before she collapsed. The adrenaline was wearing off, and blood was filling her lung.
An ambulance took Babik to University Medical Center for treatment. After several days of recovery and physical therapy, she returned to her home in Gainesville, Florida, on Tuesday.
Doctors told Babik she was lucky not to be paralyzed, and she is still regaining her ability to walk. Regardless, she wants to finish her final year of law school on time and graduate with her friends.
“I’m kind of a workaholic when it comes to school. I love law,” she said. “I don’t like quitting before something’s finished.”