ELDRIDGE, Iowa (KWQC) - Kara and Jim Kemmerer and Natalie and Troy Kruse were enjoying a fun weekend at the Route 91 concert in Las Vegas. For the first two days, they hung towards the back. But they found themselves right in the line of fire Sunday night.
“We were having a really good time,” Kara Kemmerer recalls of that weekend.
She and her sister Natalie Kruse were enjoying the country music concert series with their husbands. The Eldridge couples were excited for Sunday night's performers and decide they wanted to be a bit closer than they had been on previous nights.
“And so we went up and to the right which actually put us closer to what eventually happened,” Troy Krause said.
Troy was filming a video on his wife’s phone. On their return home, they realized the time code read 10:06 p.m. Two minutes later was when they heard the first shots.
“Yeah we looked around and I think I turned to my husband and said what is that and even tory said I think you said something about who brings fireworks,” Kemmerer recalled of those first moments.
The next 20 minutes are ones they will never forget.
“Everybody started yelling get down get down,” Kemmerer said. “Troy tried to cover Natalie, my husband stayed on top of me, over me, and just kept saying, stay down, stay down because you didn't know where it was coming from.”
After about four minutes the couples say there was a brief break in the gunfire. That is when they ran for their lives.
“We kind of went in opposite directions Kara and Jim jumped over a barricade and eventually made their way out underneath the stage and Natalie and I actually ran towards the back of the concert,” Troy recalled.
The Kemmerer’s jumped the concert fan wall and tunneled their way under a fence. The Kruse’s ran parallel to the shooter.
“I thought we were going to die,” Natalie said. “I could hear them on my heels. “They were pinging all over and it was the entire way we ran out.”
“The only [people] left that we saw [when] we were running were injured or had died or [were] being tended to,” Troy remembered.
The couples eventually found their ways to safety. And met back up at the MGN hotel where the Kruse’s had a room. The couples say they were separated again when a stampede came towards them at the hotel after someone falsely yelled about another shooter.
It was four and half hours before they all made it back to Natalie and Troy’s room. They flew home through the Quad City International Airport the next morning. The horrific memories came with.
“My husband couldn't even come [to the interview],” Kemmerer said. “He can't talk about it anymore. Believe me, he was my hero that night. He threw me over the wall when I couldn't get over and made sure I was covered. It was a hard night.”
“Part of what's hard now is, you know, I think it's natural [to think] could you or should you have done more,” Troy said. “In the moment I think all that we could think of was getting home to our kids and that was most important.”
“The part that I remember…or feel I can't get out of my body is that terror,” Natalie said. “Like the sheer terror.”
They say time will heal their wounds.
“It will get better,” Kemmerer said. “I know it will get better, but it's going to take some time.”
Until then they will remember just how lucky they are.
“It didn't matter where you were, didn't matter what you decided to do, it was pure luck or not that you made it out,” Troy said.
“God was on our side cause there were so many people that weren't [able to get out] and we're lucky we didn't even get injured,” Natalie said.