Heartbreaking: the nurse who died saving his wife’s life in the Las Vegas massacre

Our hearts go out to the families of all those who were murdered in the Las Vegas mass shooting last night.

Journalists have reported that the first victim who was identified was a 29-year-old Registered Nurse from Big Sandy, TN, Sonny Melton, who died while protecting his wife from gunfire.

Sonny and his wife, Heather Gulish Melton, only got married a year ago, and were building a house for themselves on Kentucky Lake, his best friend told reporters. They had travelled to Las Vegas together to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival as a way to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their marriage.

“He saved my life,” Heather told WSMV-TV. “He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back”.

“At this point, I’m in complete disbelief and despair,” Heather Gulish Melton told Fox 17 News. “I don’t know what to say. Sonny was the most kind-hearted, loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his”.

Sonny Melton became a RN by going back to school after first earning a finance degree and working for a few years as a financial advisor. An assistant professor of nursing who taught him said, “You know how when you met someone and you just know that they’re good and kind? That was Sonny. He just had a sweet, kind spirit about him.”

Sonny worked in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, TN. His wife works there too, as an Orthopedic Surgeon. Their employer released a statement to say that “the thoughts and prayers of the entire HCMC family are with Sonny and Heather’s families. We ask that all staff, friends, and patients of the couple respect their privacy at this time and refrain from contacting the family and the HCMC Kelley Clinic if they do not have a reason to do so.”

Courage and humanity

The shooting is being described as “the deadliest in modern U.S. history”, with at least 58 people left dead and at least 515 people were injured. Nurses who work in the Las Vegas hospitals were rushed in for overnight shifts to save people’s lives, as one of them described on Reddit afterward:

I got the call shortly after shots fired for all critical care staff to report for duty for an MCI. I raced to the the ER. My hospital took a lot of criticals. It was as if a battlefield had invaded the ER. We did the very best we could to save lives. I am sure we saved many. Some will not be so lucky.

A nurse from Orange County, CA, recounted to KTNV Las Vegas how she escaped the scene of the shooting only to return to help victims. She describes witnessing the most harrowing scenes but also how, in the midst of all this mayhem, there was a great amount of courage and humanity:

So there were so many people, just normal citizens — doctors, cops, paramedics, like, nurses … everyone’s just communicating and working together, you help this person, you help this person … It was, it was completely horrible, but it was absolutely amazing to see how people come together.

Let this be the spirit to hold on to, in the aftermath of yet another senseless mass shooting. The brave nurse who sacrificed his own life to save his wife’s. The people who rushed back to help save the lives of strangers, often without knowing how dangerous it might still be. The local residents and students who lined up afterwards to donate blood. The nurses at the ER who did the very best they could to save lives. The best we can, and have to be.

Update: One nurse’s story

Sharon Murphy is a labor and delivery nurse in Las Vegas. After the shooting, she and many of her colleagues rushed in to help in the emergency room in any way they could. Overnight, she saw some of the worst — and the best: “We have just delivered 2 babies in the ER of 2 victims from the concert that came in in labor,” she wrote at one point on Twitter. We collated some of the tweets in which she told her story:

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