Vegas shooting victim reunites with hero

Rosemarie Melanson was among the first people shot after a gunman opened fire at a concert in Las Vegas. But she credits one man, Don Matthews, for saving her life. CNN's Erica Hill reports.

Posted: May 18, 2018 1:11 AM
Updated: May 18, 2018 1:23 AM

Rosemarie Melanson can barely remember hearing a man speak to her after she was shot in the Las Vegas massacre. She soon blacked out and wouldn't recall anything about the next few weeks.

The mother of four would spend six months in a hospital and endure nine surgeries.

Last week, she finally got a chance to meet the retired Los Angeles firefighter who her family says saved her life.

In an emotional reunion, Don Matthews visited Melanson at her Las Vegas home after her recent hospital release, swallowed up by embrace after embrace from her and her family.

"Without him, I wouldn't be here -- no doubt," Melanson told CNN's Erica Hill, who was there for the reunion.

It's been a long road for Melanson, starting on that night of terror when a man rained gunfire down on thousands of concertgoers from 32nd-floor windows of a Las Vegas hotel and casino.

The gunman killed 58 people and injured about 500 before killing himself. Melanson was at the October 1 concert -- the Route 91 Harvest Festival -- with her daughters.

It was a Mother's Day gift from her oldest daughter, Stephanie. Melanson said she had just dragged her daughters to the front of a stage when she heard what she thought were firecrackers.

One bullet struck her, damaging her stomach, spleen, lung and liver.

Matthews saw Melanson and started tending to her. He told her daughters to flee -- and reluctantly, they did.

"(He said) we had to get out of here if we want to live," Stephanie told CNN's Hill. "And he's like, 'I promise I will stay with your mom all the way.' "

Melanson said she had an out-of-body experience, and went to heaven.

"It was indescribable, the peace that you felt," she told Hill. "But I was told it wasn't my time, that I had to go back."

That's when she briefly woke up.

"I could hear Don, the guy who saved my life ... and then I blacked out" for the next few weeks, she said.

Matthews, with the help of others, got Melanson out of harm's way and into a pickup truck. Eventually, she was taken to a hospital.

After 11 anguished hours, her family learned she was alive and in a hospital. Her husband, Steve, rushed to her side.

"I do believe God put everybody in the right place at the right time to save her life, and Don was her guardian angel," Steve Melanson told Hill.

The Melansons eventually connected with Matthews that month through social media. On Thanksgiving Day, while Matthews and Steve Melanson were being interviewed on CNN, Steve told the retired firefighter he was going to bring him to Las Vegas for a reunion, once Rosemarie was well enough.

Rosemarie Melanson's health challenges aren't over; a 10th surgery is scheduled for Friday. But she said she's anxious to get back to her old life.

Sitting next to her on that reunion day last week, Matthews teared up when Hill asked him whether he thought Rosemarie would survive.

"No," he said, crying and taking Rosemarie's hand.

"Never give up," Matthews said. "Miracles happen. And this one surely did."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding670
Gallia651
Adams592
Meigs380
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan250
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events