Samantha Faranda was just having a good time at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas last Sunday night.
Faranda, who lived in Cayucos for two years and whose father is a janitor at Baywood Elementary School in Los Osos, wasn’t even planning to go to the festival, but showed up last minute to hang out with friends.
Then they heard the gunshots. And one of Faranda’s friends grabbed her and said, “Sam. Run.”
They dashed for cover and dropped to the ground, waiting for the bullets to stop. When they thought it was safe, they started running again. That’s when Faranda was shot.
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She was hit twice in the forearm, which shattered her wrist and broke the main bone in her forearm, she said. She was also shot once in the upper arm and once under her right breast near her ribs.
“I looked up and all my friends were gone,” Faranda said on Tuesday, by phone from her home in Las Vegas. “I didn’t know how long I was standing there for. I grabbed my phone and ran. I hid behind this wall and I didn’t know where the gunshots were coming from, so I didn’t know where to hide.”
Two strangers approached her and helped her get to an ambulance across the street, shielding her with their bodies, she said. When they got there, Faranda recognized one of her friends, a firefighter who was helping victims, and called his name. He saw her and provided first responder care, helping stop the bleeding. She was then taken to Sunrise Hospital in an SUV, she said, and she stayed there from Sunday night through Friday afternoon.
Her parents, who live in Cayucos, flew to Las Vegas immediately. She said her mother is still in town and her father will return this weekend.
Two GoFundMe pages have been set up to help Faranda. One was set up by her boss at Milestone Settlement in Las Vegas and the other was set up by Baywood Elementary School Principal Jennifer Dinielli.
Additionally, the Women’s March SLO is holding a candlelight vigil and fundraiser on Saturday in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
Money raised from the event will go to help Faranda, according to the event page.
The vigil will take place at 7 p.m. at Mission Plaza.
“The purpose of this peaceful, non-political event is to support the victims and their families, to offer our help, and to pay respect to those who are no longer with us, and to offer condolences to their loved ones,” read the Facebook event page.
“I can’t even say how grateful I am,” Faranda said. “I never imagined any of this and I keep asking my mom, ‘Why? I don’t understand,’ and she’s like, ‘You know, people want to help you.’
“There’s not even words to express how grateful someone could be for what everyone’s done for me, whether they’ve donated to the GoFundMe or are just here with me. I might be out of the hospital and stitched up and everything, but it’s going to be a while before I’m actually OK. And all of the people helping me and supporting me are really keeping me strong through everything,” she said
Faranda also said that the people who should be getting the most attention are those who helped that night, like her firefighter friend and the two men who pulled her to safety, as well as everyone who ran back in and grabbed victims, making sure they were OK.
“I owe them everything. I owe them my life.”
This story has been corrected with accurate information about the vigil.