In the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, many survivors have shared stories of kind and heroic strangers who stepped up to help people in need.
One story involves a 5-year-old boy named Aden Huser.
Aden attended the Jason Aldean concert at the Route 91 Harvest Festival with his mom Doris, 8-year-old sister Cordelia and aunt Samantha, who has a developmental disability. Right before the shooting started, Doris took Cordelia to the bathroom ― a quick break that she thought would only take five to ten minutes.
As they made their way back into the crowd, gunman Stephen Paddock began opening fire on concertgoers from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
“People say that in a war, you get an instinct to stay down, to get cover, but I didn’t have that instinct,” Doris told Time. “All I had was, ‘I have to find my son. I have to find my sister.’”
In the ensuing chaos, Doris said she and Cordelia searched piles of bodies for signs of Aden and Samantha. Meanwhile, Aden and his aunt had been separated as people fled the scene. The little boy wound up in a merchandise tent, where 26-year-old concertgoer Lindsey Rogers found him.
Rogers scooped him up and ran to the nearby Motel 6.
“I was nervous to take him because I knew that his mom would be devastated to find that her child was gone, but in the moment we thought that the best decision was to get as many people as safe as possible,” she told ABC News. “The shots were so sporadic and it wasn’t stopping so we took a chance.”
Sheltered at the Motel 6, Rogers took a photo of Aden and posted it on social media, urging others to share it to help track down his family. An off-duty police officer named Chris Cunningham was also at the Motel 6 with his girlfriend, Taylor Sutton, and both shared Aden’s photo and information.
As they waited, Sutton said Aden helped her stay composed.
“He honestly kept me calm. I didn’t want to freak him out so we told him they were fireworks and asked him, ‘Who were you with before the fireworks happened?’” Sutton told ABC News. “He didn’t seem scared or worried.”
Rogers echoed this, telling KTNV that Aden stayed calm despite all the uncertainty. “He was really brave,” she said.
Police officers advised Rogers to take Aden to Sunrise Hospital for better chances of reuniting with his family. As they prepared to leave, they received a phone number for Aden’s grandfather through social media ― the posts of Aden’s picture had spread far and wide.
They called Aden’s grandfather to let him know the little boy would be at Sunrise Hospital. He arrived to pick up him shortly after. The grandfather also picked up Samantha, who had made it to a nearby Hooters with the help of another Good Samaritan.
In the meantime, Doris and Cordelia had taken shelter in a casino. The mom told ABC News she felt “hopeless and helpless” but tried to be strong for her daughter, who had started vomiting in response to the trauma.
Finally, she received the good news from her father and reunited with Aden at home.
On Wednesday, Doris met up with the kind strangers who took care of her son on that horrible night. “They are heroes!” she wrote on Facebook. “I will be forever in debt to Lindsey Rogers, Chris Cunningham and Taylor Sutton for saving my son!”
In the aftermath of the trauma, Doris is focused on her children’s well-being. She’s seeking counseling for Aden, Cordelia and herself and making sure to fill their days with love and comfort.
“I don’t want them to grow up and be afraid to go to festivals, to go into crowds,” she told Time. “I know they’ll never be the same as they were on Saturday night. I know seeing something so terrible will be like taking a chunk of their childhoods. But I want them to have no worries. I want them to be fun loving little kids again. That’s my greatest hope.”