A couple that met during 2017's Route 91 Harvest Festival and survived the deadliest mass shooting in American history married at a San Diego, California courthouse in Nov. 2019, and they hope to host a more formal wedding date in Las Vegas once the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic subsides.
Chantal Melanson, 29, and Austin Monfort, 24, met in Las Vegas at country music bar Gilley's Saloon just one day before the shooting. Melanson, a native of Alberta, Canada, attended the festival because a friend had a spare ticket. Monfort came to town for a friend's birthday.
The future couple exchanged numbers and met up the next day, not knowing that they'd be bonded by tragedy.
"There was a reason we met when we did. We needed each other in this chaos," Melanson told Metro.
Both had gotten as close to the main stage as possible for Jason Aldean's set, placing them in a sea of concertgoers when Stephen Paddock executed a mass shooting from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
"We thought it was fireworks at the beginning since all big concerts usually have some kind of fireworks, however when it wasn't stopping, everyone dropped to the ground," Melanson told Metro. "We were on the ground across from each other so we both were looking at each other. We stayed on the ground for a while and the shots were not stopping."
The couple and their friends made it out unscathed, with Monfort never leaving Melanson's side during the chaos.
"Everyone ran in different directions but Austin stayed with me and we ran together," Melanson told Metro. "We ran across the entire festival grounds stopping a few times to get shelter."
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Fast-forward to Sept. 2019, when Melanson and Monfort sought a K1 Visa, which allowed Melanson to live in America if the couple wed within 90 days. They were married by November. Their Nevada nuptials were tentatively planned for May at ARIA Resort and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard, but that's been postponed due to the coronavirus.
They're not the first Las Vegas shooting survivors to wed. In Oct. 2018, Jordanne Barr and Jordan Adamczyk had their wedding paid for by The Fairy Godmother Foundation, which aids deserving couples impacted by life-changing circumstances.