A mutual love of country music brought two strangers together in Las Vegas earlier this week before a barrage of gunfire separated them forever.
Michelle Vo, a Bay Area native, and Kody Robertson, of Ohio, both 32, were among an estimated 22,000 concertgoers at the Route 91 music festival Sunday. However, Vo is now listed among 58 people who were killed when Stephen Paddock, 64, sprayed bullets into the crowd from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Robertson told the Washington Post that he met Vo while up-and-comer Luke Combs was playing a set. The auto parts salesman told her that he was at the festival with a group of friends, while Vo said she was alone. The pair began talking and were standing next to each other, close to the stage, when Jason Aldean began to perform.
A bullet struck Vo's chest, and she fell to the ground. Robertson said he laid on top of her to protect her, and when the firing ceased, he and another man began carrying Vo out of the venue, the Washington Post reported.
The two men — who were forced to stop and take cover every time Paddock resumed shooting — took turns performing CPR on Vo, while Robertson said he screamed at the unresponsive woman to wake up.
Once outside the concert grounds on Las Vegas Boulevard, Robertson put Vo on the bed of a white pickup truck. The driver was heading to a hospital, according to the newspaper.
Robertson ran back in the direction of the stage in search of Vo's purse and phone. Slain people lay on the ground, while others hid under bleachers and behind food stands as Paddock caused the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Nearly 530 people were wounded, police say.
Robertson had no idea where his new friend had been taken, but he walked to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, which was closest to the concert venue, the Washington Post said.
He got to the locked-down hospital around 3 a.m. Monday when Vo's phone rang. Her brother-in-law, Jeremiah Hawkins, asked if Vo was OK. Robertson relayed the little information he had and promised her family to continue searching for her.
After an hour, the lockdown at Desert Springs was lifted, but Vo wasn't there. Calling the police help line dozens of times didn't help Robertson find her, the Washington Post said.
Robertson then began the four-mile walk to the Luxor, where both he and Vo were staying. Around 5 a.m., 37-year-old Hawkins called Robertson and asked if he had checked Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. So he changed into tennis shoes and walked to the hospital.
Close to six hours later, two doctors and a counselor approached Robertson.
"They came and brought me into a separate room and told me that she did not survive," he told MSNBC.
Hearing that, Robertson called Vo's family.
"I called Jeremiah, the brother-in-law, and we put it on speakerphone and had the doctor speak to them and advise them of the situation," Robertson said.
When he found out that Vo had succumbed to her injuries, Robertson decided to extend his stay — the Luxor accommodated him, as did Southwest Airlines — so he could meet her family. Luxor also extended the stay on Vo's room until her relatives arrived in Las Vegas to collect her belongings.
"It was upsetting," Robertson said. "I was holding out hope for the longest time that she would pull through and make it."
Vo's sister, Diane Hawkins, her husband and other friends arrived in Vegas later Monday and thanked Robertson for his help.
"I went over detail by detail what had happened," said Robertson.
The victim's family also shared stories about Vo with Robertson, who in turn told them how his day-old friend had shown him pictures of her sisters.
The family believes that if Robertson hadn't spent the night trying to find Vo, they would still be trying to track her down, the Washington Post reported.
Vo, who was remembered as vivacious, ambitious and selfless, was raised in San Jose. She graduated from Independence High School in 2003 and then the University of California, Davis. Vo had been working as an insurance agent in Southern California, but before she made the move had worked as an executive assistant at Synopsys in Mountain View.
As of Wednesday evening, a GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $35,000 of a $10,000 goal.