BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kern County community is still reeling from the loss of a handful of people, each with their own unique stories and ties to the Route 91 concert that took place a year ago.
The Now Bakersfield’s Tori Cooper spoke to survivors who are trying to move past that tragic night along with families who are continuing to remember their loved ones.
Many survivors, including several from right here in Kern County spent the night in Las Vegas, reuniting in the same spot where many of their lives changed. Those that Cooper spoke to said they are still trying to find healing in all of the loss.
It's been a painful year full of challenges for parents like Scott and Crissy Schweizter who lost their 20-year-old daughter and Centennial High School grad Bailey Schweizter at the Route 91 concert last October. "Every morning, every night I pray, I know I'm talking to her, I know she’s hearing it," Scott Schweizter said.
Laurie Beaton on the other hand is remembering her soul mate, Jack Beaton for the love and friendship they shared and the father he was before he took a bullet for her outside of the Mandalay Bay hotel. "When the bullets we're firing he told me he loved me as he laid on top of me," Laurie Beaten said.
Beaton’s friends are also still filled with the joy that he put in their lives,"Jack lit up the room I mean he was just a friendly, I mean anytime he walked in you just laughed because everything that came out of his mouth was funny he's just a great guy," Friend of Jack Beaton Kim Catallo said.
54-year-old Beaton was not the only Kern County native to leave behind a wife after the attack, 55 year-old Victor Link from Shafter also left behind his fiance Lynne at the concert after spending his final moments listening to music he loved with who the woman he also loved.
Taft High School substitute teacher 28-year-old Kelsey Meadows and Cal State University of Bakersfield graduate, 26-year-old Melissa Ramirez also left their imprints in Kern County before they lost their lives too at the concert.
However, those who made it out are still remembering the pain from that night, "When I turned is when I got hit, so it was like the fifth shot, it felt like I was being electrocuted," Route 91 survivor from Kern County Angelica Soto said. Soto is among the hundreds who were wounded but one of the few who survived from Kern County.
Like Soto, Rachel Sheppard is also still dealing with lingering pain after being shot three times at the concert, "It's good and bad days for the most part I always have chest pain, lower back pain and then I’ve been dealing with stomach issues lately," Sheppard said.
Sheppard also said that even though she is alive she is still weary of what may still come her way, "it's definitely scary and if I'm struggling now I can't imagine what the future could be like." Sheppard is still battling emotionally and physically but she is also one of the Kern County survivors that is now married one year later.
Billy Bob Mason and his new wife Regina Mason are also two other survivors from Kern County that tied their official knot Monday at the Route 91 concert reunion in Vegas. The two were surrounded by their immediate family and now their extended Route 91 family, "You know after we finally decided it was ok to go back to Vegas to get married we couldn't pick any other location than where we picked at the healing gardens or the day.You know it had to be done today, it had to be done in the healing gardens. We wanted the 58 angels that we lost that night to be a big part of our wedding we wanted them there and they were." The Mason’s said.
The Healing Garden was the cite for the Route 91 reunion ceremony Monday. It featured new installments honoring the 58 that were lost, but it also became the place where the Masons created a new memory in Vegas with a stronger and bigger family than they had before the concert, "We consider ourselves to be the Route 91 family now," Billy Bob Mason said.
Other survivors like Brent and Michelle Little from Kern County also said the Route 91 family is continuing to grow and it's a new group of friends that they each lean on for support through the healing process, "Families have been amazing but you know you get to a point where you know I'm having a bad day and I don't need to dump that on my family. So we have this group of other survivors that we've built those relationships and it can be two o'clock in the morning or Saturday afternoon and if you need to call they are going to pick up the phone," Route 91 survivor from Kern County Michelle Little said.
New friends now sharing one memory and the Route 91 family now finding strength after tragedy along with closure after loss, "The one comfort and thing that we got out of this is that we know that our girl's in heaven," Scott Schweizter said.