The couple and their unborn baby survived the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history

By Jason Duaine Hahn
July 03, 2018 03:54 PM
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Courtesy Kami Biorkman

A pregnant woman who escaped the deadly Las Vegas shooting last year has welcomed a baby girl, who she credits with saving her life — and the lives of her parents and husband — on that terrifying night.

On the morning that Kami Biorkman and her husband, Elijah, were to head to Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival last year, they found out something surprising: Biorkman was pregnant. The news initially caught her off guard, since she didn’t think she would get pregnant again after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy in 2016 when her egg fertilized outside of her uterus. The condition resulted in one of Biorkman’s fallopian tubes being removed.

“I didn’t actually believe it at first. I lost the pregnancy and one of my tubes, so we tried for a year to get pregnant, so when we finally found out we were pregnant, I wasn’t sure, maybe it was a false positive?” Biorkman, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I never thought I would lose a pregnancy, so I expected the unexpected, and I was nervous about losing this one, too.”

Biorkman told Elijah — her high school sweetheart — that she would repeat the test once they were back from the festival, just to be sure. Even so, Biorkman promised herself she would stay away from alcohol and anything else at the concert that could potentially hurt their chances of holding on to the pregnancy.

Kami and Elijah Biorkman in the hours before the shooting
Courtesy Kami Biorkman

After traveling more than 200 miles from their home in Yucaipa, California, the couple met up with Biorkman’s parents and enjoyed three days of country music with 22,000 other concertgoers at the open-air event. But as the family stood close to the stage as country star Jason Aldean performed on October 1, the last night of the festival, Biorkman grew increasingly concerned for her baby as the smoke from cigars and marijuana filled the air, so she and the family moved farther back in the crowd.

And that’s when the unthinkable happened.

As Aldean prepared to leave the stage, a series of loud bangs rang out from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old gambler and real estate businessman who lived in the area, broke out the window of his hotel room and was fired bullets from high-powered weapons into the crowd.

“At first, I didn’t realize it was bullets that were going off. I had no idea they were gunshots,” Biorkman recalls. “I thought they were fireworks. I was looking around to see where the noise was coming from and people were already running towards us, and my dad turned around and said, ‘Get up and run!’ ”

As the gunfire sprayed out into the frightened and confused crowd, the family took cover behind a collection of lockers and tried to come up with a plan for escape.

Rosalie Biorkman
Courtesy Kami Biorkman

“We took cover at the lockers because the bullets were still spraying, and everyone’s upset and crying and people are laying on the floor,” Biorkman says. “When we realized it was gunshots, I honestly couldn’t believe it was happening again — my first pregnancy didn’t end the way we wanted it to, and I was terrified it was happening again, it was repeating the cycle that I was going to lose another baby.”

The family was able to make it to their truck unharmed, and two other couples jumped into the vehicle’s bed as they rushed to safety.

During a span of 10 minutes — from 10:05 to 10:15 p.m. — Paddock fired more than a thousand rounds, injuring more than 500 people and claiming the lives of 58 others before Las Vegas police officers entered his hotel room and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The massacre is listed as the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history.

After surviving the traumatic event, Biorkman says she and Elijah put their complete focus on her pregnancy, which helped them heal in the months that followed, though Biorkman admits she still jumps when she hears loud noises.

Rosalie Biorkman
Courtesy Kami Biorkman

On June 14, nine months after the shooting, Biorkman gave birth to Rosalie, the baby girl who she credits with saving the lives of her family — all before she was even born.

“If I wasn’t pregnant with her, we would have stayed up front and hung out with the rowdiness,” Biorkman says. “If we had not moved back, I’m not sure we would have walked away from that concert.”

Now, she says, the couple can concentrate on parenthood, something — not long ago — they didn’t think would happen.

“She’s here, and looking at her now, it’s a wonder that we ever lived without her. I’m just in that new parent awe,” Biorkman adds. “It’s amazing, and now that she is here in our arms, we feel like we can finally close that chapter on what happened in Vegas.”