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Five years later: Central, South Coast survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting return for memorials

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Jes Timms
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Unsplash
Relatives of victims, and survivors of the Route 91 Harvest Festival attack in Las Vegas are gathering to commemorate its fifth anniversary October 1.

Ventura County woman who survived both the attack in Las Vegas, as well as the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks among those attending.

This is going to be a tough weekend for thousands of people. Molly Maurer of Simi Valley is one of them. This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Maurer was at the concert.

"i go back and forth between feeling like it's been so long...it's been five years...as I go through those feelings, I'm instantly like I can't believe it's only been five years," said Maurer.

The Simi Valley woman was one of the more than 22,000 people at the concert. 60 people died, and more than 800 were injured in the attack. Maurer said living with the trauma hasn’t been easy.

"I still do think about it emotionally, and it brings up a lot of emotions." said Maurer. "It's a lot easier for me to think about it now...I don't have fear...it's a lot easier talking about it."

What complicated her recovery is the fact that just over a year after the Las Vegas attack, she was at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, where another mass shooting occurred, leading to 12 deaths.

"My first thing was I gotta get out of here...I kept repeating it's happening again...I can't believe it's happening again."

But, she realized that talking about the trauma was key to her recovery. She embraced that concept, becoming a part of what’s known as the Route 91 Heals Team. An organization called Give an Hour, which gets therapists to provide free therapy, got a grant through the Ventura County District Attorney’s office to provide support to survivors and their families.

Maurer is the Peer Support Lead, and Program Coordinator.

Michael Morisette is Outreach Coordinator for Give An Hour, the non-profit umbrella for the Route 91 support effort. "We're not here to tell people what they need," he said. "We're just here for them."

What's especially important is the peer-to-peer support, because survivors can connect with each other in the way the rest of us can't, because they lived it.

He and Mauer are headed are among those from the Central and South Coasts headed to Las Vegas for commemorative events set for this weekend.

Being involved in an effort like this is a healing effort for Morisette as well. He lost his daughter in the Borderline Bar and Grill attack.

For Molly Mauer, who survived both the Las Vegas and Thousand Oaks mass shooting, recovery has been a work in progress, and she sid she’s worked hard. She feels like for the first time in years, she’s at a good place in coping with her trauma.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.