Sanger native shot in Las Vegas mass shooting speaks publicly for the first time

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"It's still incredibly hard. That night was absolute hell," said Jessica. (KFSN)

Jessica Milam and Destene Albers are Disneyland co-workers who initially bonded over country music and when they are together, it seems a strange chemical reaction yields wackiness and warmth.

They took this act on the road to Las Vegas last year, but their lively weekend ended in terror when a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing 58 and injuring 851 other people, including Jessica.

"There was one point where I thought 'this is how I die. I didn't think I was making it out," said Milam.

When a bullet hit Jessica that night, Destene pledged to get her out and she did. Little by little dragging her friend out of the concert grounds.

JESSICA: I couldn't have asked for a better person to be there with.

DESTENE: I love you.

JESSICA: I love you.

Jessica's here tonight because of Destene, but the rescue required a second angel.

"He pulled up, brakes screeching.'Hey, we're going to the hospital. If you need anybody going to the hospital, load them in," said Destene.

Taylor Winston commandeered a pickup truck and drove dozens of people to the hospital, including Jessica and Destene.
RELATED: Father of the Sanger Woman shot during the Las Vegas massacre gives a health update

He joined our interview via Facetime.

DESTENE: I've waited for this moment for four months and I can't even put it into words how grateful I am for you and for your quick thinking in saving our lives and so many others.

TAYLOR: I am too.

Like Destene, the Marine veteran shies away from the 'hero' label, but he is still reaching out to victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

"We're still trying to help everybody. It's nowhere near over. I know you guys probably struggle on the daily," said Winston.

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Taylor now runs a weekly support group led by a trauma therapist who also survived the shooting, and he invited Jessica and Destene to join their healing process.

"Nobody really understands what we went through other than the other survivors and each other," said Destene.

"It's still incredibly hard. That night was absolute hell," said Jessica.

The gunshots of October first still haunt Jessica, making fireworks and police sirens tough to tolerate.

She spent 35 days in the hospital, some of them touch-and-go, with her parents and her boyfriend by her side the whole time.

Her Disney family rallied around her, even sending Mickey and Minnie Mouse for a bedside visit.

The Central Valley sent its support too.

The reinforcements helped her mentally and physically, but do not let the smiles fool you. She is still fighting her way back.

"I think a lot of people look at me and because I look like myself. I look like I did before it happened. They think 'oh, she's fine. She's back to herself,' which is not true. I'm only about 50 percent, but I'm going to keep fighting because it's my only option," said Milam.

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