Kurt Fowler spends most of his time in an easy chair with his right leg perched atop pillows and encased in a cast.
It’s a frustratingly slow pace for someone used to riding around the Lake Havasu area in a fire engine.
But Fowler, a 41-year-old firefighter with the Desert Hills Fire Department, is just grateful he and his family are alive.
Fowler and his wife Trina were at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas Oct. 1, celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary with friends and relatives when the gunfire started.
Other concertgoers nearby thought the rapid bursts were fireworks, but Trina Fowler said she knew what they were right away.
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Kurt said she started to run, but he pushed her to the ground and covered her body with his own. He also put his hands over her head to shield her from the gunfire.
"My job as a husband is to make sure my wife is safe. She's the backbone of our family. She takes care of our kids. I wouldn't know what to do without her and neither would my kids," he said in an interview Wednesday.
The Fowlers have three kids, ages 10, 14, and 16.
"If one of us has to make it, she has to make it home," Kurt said.
[SLIDESHOW: Shooting on Las Vegas Strip]
Within 5 to 10 seconds, by Kurt’s estimate, he got shot. The bullet shattered the tibia and fibula in his right leg.
Kurt knew they had to move. He tried to stand but couldn’t. He told his wife: it’s time to go. Run. Leave me behind.
“It had to be as difficult leaving me behind as it was for me to send her on her way,” Kurt said.
Trina ran, reaching a parking lot where she banged on car doors until someone let her in.
With his wife out of sight, Kurt began hopping and crawling towards a riser in the crowd where sound engineers had been mixing the performance by country singer Jason Aldean.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Las Vegas massacre]
Other concertgoers were hiding there too. Kurt said one man helped him create a tourniquet out of a t-shirt to slow the bleeding.
After the shooting, a few people helped carry Kurt to a truck that took him to a nearby hospital.
Amid all the chaos, the Fowlers said they witnessed a lot of good that day. That’s the main reason they wanted to share their story: to highlight the many acts of selflessness and say thank you for all the support.
From online fundraisers to T-shirt sales to handwritten cards, the Fowlers say they’ve been incredibly moved by the support they’ve received, from friends and co-workers and complete strangers across the country.
“There’s no way to say thank you enough. There’s no way to express the gratitude for everybody who has reached out to us,” Kurt said.
Because Kurt was wounded off-duty, he does not qualify for workers compensation. The Desert Hills Fire District does not carry disability insurance, so Kurt said he is largely supporting his wife and three kids with the donations from a GoFundMe campaign until he can return to work.
His goal is to return in one year.
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