Vegas survivor held stranger for hours after he died at her side - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Vegas survivor held stranger for hours after he died at her side

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Jordan McIldoon, 23, was a construction mechanic apprentice and was about to start trade school in Canada. (Source: Jordan McIldoon/Facebook/CNN) Jordan McIldoon, 23, was a construction mechanic apprentice and was about to start trade school in Canada. (Source: Jordan McIldoon/Facebook/CNN)

LAS VEGAS (CNN) – In the midst of Sunday’s tragedy, one bartender stayed to help, holding the hand of a dying stranger for hours and comforting his mother and girlfriend over the phone.

Heather Gooze, who had been working at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, didn’t run as the concert venue turned into a killing field, and the bar became a triage center.

"I'm not the most courageous and strongest person. Something wouldn't let me run. Like, everybody was running out the door, and something wouldn't let me go," Gooze said.

Gooze says three men brought an injured stranger over to the bar area. She helped them move the man to the sidewalk.

"I was kind of kneeling on the ground... and I had my hand over his hand, and I could kind of feel his fingers, like, wrapped around my hand... I felt, like, a squeeze on my fingers, and then I just felt the fingers go loose,” Gooze said.

Within 10 minutes, the man was dead, Gooze says.

Still, Gooze felt like she couldn’t leave this man, even though he was a stranger. She sat with him for an hour. Then, she heard his cell phone ring.

Gooze picked up the phone, and on the other end of the line was a friend who had heard about the incident.

“I said, 'I'm with him right now, and we were in the shooting.' And his friend said, 'Is he OK?' And I said, 'No, he's not.' And he said, 'Is he hurt?' And I said, 'Yes, he's hurt.' And he's like, 'Is he...' And he just kind of stopped and I said, 'He didn't make it. He's – he's not breathing,’” Gooze said.

Gooze learned the man’s name was Jordan McIldoon. He was 23 and from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

Through Facebook, Gooze tried to contact McIldoon’s family and his girlfriend, who had been at the concert with him.

Moments later, the phone rang again. This time, it was McIldoon’s mother, who gave Gooze the number of his longtime girlfriend, Amber. Gooze called Amber immediately.

“She said, 'Be honest with me. How bad is it? What's going on?' I said, 'He didn't make it. He died.' And she said, 'No, no, check his breathing. There's no way. Check again. Feel for his pulse. Talk to him.' I said, 'I've been with him for over an hour. He's gone.' And she broke down, and she said, 'He's the love of my life. This can't be happening,'” Gooze said.

Amber wanted to see her boyfriend, but even though she was only a block away at the nearby Tropicana hotel, she couldn’t get there. The hotel was in lockdown.

Gooze promised she would stay with McIldoon.

"I told her, 'I was here. I've been with him this whole time.' I go, 'I promise you I will not leave him. I will not let them go anywhere with him or do anything or say anything that I'm not going to tell you about,'" Gooze said.

For about four hours, Gooze sat with McIldoon – until 3:30 a.m.

"I just didn't want him to be alone... I didn't want him to just be a no-named body. I knew who he was, and now, I had an obligation to make sure that everybody knew who he was," Gooze said.

All the while, she kept in touch with McIldoon's mother and girlfriend.

"There was another guy that was by us. His wife had been shot and killed, the mother of his three kids, and he never left her side. And I didn't want Jordan to not have somebody with him,” Gooze said.

Gooze stayed until the authorities came over. She shared the contact numbers she had and moved aside to let them work.

With tears rolling down her face, Gooze told CNN she didn’t feel like she had done enough. The paramedics and police were the real heroes, she said.

"I just sat with him. I would like to think, if it was me, somebody wouldn't let me sit there alone,” Gooze said.

McIldoon’s parents say he was a construction mechanic apprentice and was about to start trade school in Canada.

Copyright 2017 CNN. All rights reserved.

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