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Nevada woman recalls coming to aid of N.L. group after the tragic Las Vegas shooting

['A group of Newfoundlanders were taken in by the Mitchell family in Henderson, Nev., in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.']
['A group of Newfoundlanders were taken in by the Mitchell family in Henderson, Nev., in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.']

It has been just over a week since tragedy struck the Las Vegas Strip, in what is considered the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Rhonda Mitchell of Nevada was at the right place at the right time, to take care of a group of Newfoundlanders — Jeff Morey Andrew Bragg, Chris Crawley and Chris Hearn — who were caught up in the tragedy.

She was driving to the airport to pick up her daughter and son-in-law after their honeymoon, when she realized that something wasn’t right.

“On my drive in I had about eight emergency vehicles pass me with lights and sirens,” said Mitchell. “That concerned me. I even called my husband and told him I had the creeps.”

When she arrived at the airport, she went to the baggage carousel.

“It was a ghost town,” said Mitchell. “I logged on to my Facebook account, where I saw friends of mine posting that there’s something happening in the strip.”
“I started private messaging with a friend, who warned me I should get out of the airport as soon as possible,” she said. “I don’t know what came over me, but I felt a prompting from God to go upstairs.”

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Mitchell went upstairs in the airport where it was still relatively empty, and started watching TV with a couple of other people.

“All of a sudden an influx of people started to arrive,” said Mitchell. “I assumed my daughters flight had gotten in.”

But as Mitchell soon discovered, the tarmac was closed due to hundreds of people fleeing the Jason Aldean concert and taking shelter in the airport.

“A group of eight kids showed up, and they were visibly rattled,” said Mitchell. “They looked at the TV’s and told us they had just come from the concert, and they had just run for over an hour, fleeing for their lives.”

At this point, Mitchell had learned that her daughter’s flight had been diverted to Phoenix, and it would be another hour or more until she made it back home.

In that time, Mitchell offered to take a group of three girls back to where they were staying.

When she returned to the airport, the group of Newfoundlanders were still there.

“At this point my daughter and son-in-law had finally landed,” said Mitchell. “But I insisted the boys come back to our home with us.”

The boys began telling Mitchell about one of their friends who had been separated from them throughout the chaos of the night.

“I realized the boy was with a bunch of strangers,” said Mitchell. “So I had to go get him.”

“Driving back towards the strip, where it all happened, was the most stressful part of my night,” said Mitchell. “The relief was amazing when we picked up the last boy and started driving towards my house.”

Mitchell told The Telegram that she just wanted to take everybody’s mind off the tragedy, and make them feel comfortable and safe in her home.

“The next morning I got up and made them breakfast, just like I would for my own kids,” said Mitchell. “They were such gentlemen, it was really a pleasure having them in my home.”

The boys had planned on visiting Hoover Dam during their visit, so Mitchell made sure they got to do so.

“I just tried to show them a better part of Vegas,” said Mitchell.

She told The Telegram that it took the boys a little time until they were comfortable enough to return to their hotel.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, but it didn’t register how close their hotel was to the venue,” said Mitchell. “They could literally see the venue through their window. It made me fully understand why they were so nervous to go back to their hotel.”

The boys were able to get a flight back to Newfoundland on Monday evening.

“Yes, there are a few very evil people in the world, and man, they can wreak havoc,” said Mitchell. “But there were so many acts of kindness within this tragedy, that’s what we need to start focusing on.”

 

beth.penney@thetelegram.com

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