LAS VEGAS, Nev. (NV) – Among the 59 people shot dead in the massacre Sunday night was 32-year-old Michelle Vo, an insurance agent for New York Life in Los Angeles County.
In an announcement sent to Nguoi Viet News on Tuesday, the company said: “Like all Americans, we are shocked and saddened at the terrible tragedy that has unfolded in Las Vegas. Our grief is deepened by knowing that a member of the New York Life family, Michelle Vo, an agent in our Greater Pasadena office, was among those killed. During this terrible time, our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and loved ones.”
Nguoi Viet News called Vo’s family representative, Nikki Duong, to ask for more information and left messages, but has yet to receive a returned call.
According to NBC, Michelle Vo graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 2003, and went to University of California, Davis.
She worked in the San Jose suburb of Mountain View before transferring to Southern California.
Friends to share the pain
Kimo Huynh, Vo’s golf friend, discused Vo with Nguoi Viet News on Monday.
“My heart sunk last night, and I selfishly prayed and hoped that I didn’t know any of the victims. … I’m stunned and so sad right now, Michelle Vo was one of the smartest and funnest women I’ve ever met. [She was] beautiful inside and out; we just had an awesome round of golf together a couple months ago. … My condolences and deepest thoughts go out to her family and friends.”
One of Michelle’s friends, Candice Phi Phi, wrote on Facebook: “She was a beautiful young woman who lives locally in Glendale and was in Vegas celebrating their success with her co-workers. My brother tried texting her when he heard of the shooting, only to discover later that she was one of the fatal victims. He is incredibly heart broken, and I cannot even fathom what her family is going through. My deepest condolences go out to Michelle’s family and friends.”
After the news, many of Michelle’s friends and co-workers shared information on Facebook.
One of Michelle’s co-workers, Vivian Ha, wrote: “Michelle Vo was such an inspiration to so many of us here at New York Life Greater Pasadena. Anytime I had a question she would always be there, in the computer lab, on the phone, in the lobby, etc. I’m in shock. You were a true girl boss and will truly be missed. ”
Another Facbeook poster wrote: “I am really sad to know that my childhood friend died in the Las Vegas massacre. My condolences to all who is affected by this inhumane act. We need more love and light in this world, in this dark era more than ever. Michelle, rest in peace, my condolences to your family.”
The act of a new American friend at the concert
According to The Washington Post, Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, met Michelle Vo by chance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert in Las Vegas. They joked and talked about golf. He recommended a beer for her, and she showed him a big tattoo on her back. They realized both were both staying at the Luxor.
Robertson is a longtime country music fan and came to Las Vegas with a group of friends for the concert. And Michelle Vo went here alone.
Robertson told Vo about the fun they had last year at the concert, and she let him know that she only started to like this type of music recently. As the concert wound down, the new friends sat at a place about 20 yards from the stage with other concert goers.
Suddenly, the gun shots started to fire, at 10:08 p.m. Robertson and Michelle looked into the sky to see if there were fireworks.
And the bullets continued hailing, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Everyone started to run, and scream.
One bullet pierced through Michelle Vo’s chest.
“She got hit, and I turned, saw she fell down,” Robertson remember. “She fell down right next to me, about two steps away.”
Then Robertson threw his body on top of Michelle to shield the bullets, and when the gunfire stopped, he and another person carried her out of the concert area.
“Michelle, Michelle!” Robertson screamed when he and others tried to perform CPR for her, she was no longer breathing. “Wake up!”
After that, Robertson saw a white pickup truck heading for a hospital. He put her on the truck’s bed, and returned to the concert area. He found her wallet but couldn’t find her phone.
He called the number she had given him; the person who answered said her phone had been by the stage and told him to go to Planet Hollywood to pick it up.
Holding Michelle’s phone, Robertson saw many frantic messages but could not unlock it because he didn’t have the code.
Then he asked around, and some casino employees nearby told him where to find the closest hospital. He walked there, while texting his family and friends to let them know he was safe.
At 3 a.m., Robertson arrived at the hospital, but the door was locked and no one could get in. There was no news about Michelle. Blood was all over his jeans and hands, and Michelle’s phone buzzed.
On the other end, Jeremiah Hawkins, 37, Michelle’s brother in-law, begged, “Please tell me that she’s OK.”
Robertson told him what he knew: Michelle was shot in the chest and driven to the hospital.
He also promised to look for her.
After an hour waited, the hospital opened, everyone came in and out. Michelle’s purse was still in Robertson’s hand, and he ran up to a policeman who was standing at the entrance.
“Do you have a woman named Michelle? Five-foot-three. Asian. A big flower tattoo on her back. She won’t have any ID on her; I have her purse.”
The policeman checked the list. There was no Michelle in the hospital.
Robertson called other hopitals that he knew. None of them had her. He called the information centers set up by the police, at least 60 times, according to his memory. Nothing.
Still in the corridor of Desert Springs hospital, Robertson called Michelle’s brother in-law, and let him know there was no information yet. Then, hospital staff asked Robertson to leave, and he walked back to Luxor, about 4 miles away.
Continue to look for Michelle
At that time, in Washington state, a thousand miles from Las Vegas, Michelle’s brother in-law continued to call the hospitals to look for the sister in-law, but learned nothing.
“I kept being afraid that Kody wouldn’t pick up, or Kody would leave, that he would drop us along the way,” Hawkins said. “I was calling every hospital, and every operating room, and every time I called Kody, he answered. Every message, he responded. Every time we needed him to do something, he did it.”
At 5 a.m., Michelle’s brother in-law called Robertson, who was at the hotel.
“Have you tried Sunrise Hospital?” Hawkins asked.
Robertson took of his cowboy boots, put on tennis shoes, stepped out to the street and waved down a taxi. Minutes later, he arrived at the hospital and described Michelle Vo to the front desk workers.
Five-foot-three. Asian. Dark Hair. A big flower tattoo on her back.
“She might be here,” the hospital worker said.
Robertson sat and waited, anxiously.
About 11 a.m., three women, including two doctors and a hospital consultant, stepped out, and took Robertson into a small room inside.
“Michelle didn’t make it,” one of the doctors said. “The wounds were too much. She didn’t make it.”
Robertson called Hawkins, told him to sit down and turned on the speaker phone.
The doctor repeated: “She didn’t make it.”
“That’s when it hit me,” Robertson said. “I didn’t really want to talk to anyone.”
He looked down to his phone, which was still stained with blood. Then, he walked back to Luxor, about 4 ½ miles away.
According to the schedule, he had to leave Las Vegas on Monday, but he decided to stay.
His boss said he just take his time. Southwest Airlines said he could change the flight. The hotel extended his stay.
The hotel let Michelle’s family took her personal belongings. Her sister, brother in-law and a few friends who flew into Las Vegas on Monday afternoon quickly came to Robertson’s room.
“Kody was our guardian angel,” said Diane Hawkins, 40, Vo’s oldest sister, who said he knew that had Robertson not tracked down her sister, their family would still be searching for her. “He refused to let her be alone.”