An emotional Dr. Heather Gulish Melton appeared on NBC’s Today show Wednesday and shared memories of husband Sonny Melton — who died saving her life in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“I lost half my heart,” an emotional Heather told Today anchor Savannah Guthrie. “It was a love that I had never experienced before. It was the kind of love that fills you up every single day. We loved being together and people felt how much we loved each other. I will carry that with me forever. I don’t know that I’ll ever experience that kind of love again. But the days I had with him were worth every minute.”
“I didn’t want to do this [interview] at all but I did not want the negative person to outshine the souls that were lost,” Melton added.
“I wanted the whole world to know how good Sonny was. My son said to me, ‘Mom — Sonny’s an international hero. He was always our hero when this happened.’ So this didn’t just happen that one night. He knows that his mother was saved by Sonny.”
Sonny — a registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee who worked alongside Heather as her surgical assistant — was attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival with his wife in celebration of their one-year wedding anniversary when gunfire began.
Like most, they believed the sound they heard at first was fireworks. When they realized what was happening, Sonny immediately wrapped his arms around his wife to protect her.
“I know he saved my life,” Heather said. “When we realized that gun shots were going off and it wasn’t just fireworks like everybody thought, I said, ‘Let’s get down.’ And he said, ‘No we’ll get trampled let’s go.’ And he wrapped his arms around my back.”
“As we started to run I felt him get shot in the back and we fell to the ground,” Heather continued. “At that point there was still gunfire all around us and people were still lying on the ground and I tried to perform CPR on him on the field.”
Being a surgeon, Heather knew Sonny was dying as she was performing CPR. “He began to bleed from his mouth and I was just screaming for somebody to help me,” she recounted.
Somebody eventually did come to help, putting Sonny on his shoulder and running him across the field to a pickup truck, where he was laid along two other victims and rushed to the hospital.
“[The stranger] performed CPR on Sonny the entire way to the hospital,” Heather said. “And they stayed with me the entire time. They stayed by my side. I don’t know their names — I was in too much shock to even ask. But I’m very grateful that I wasn’t left alone.”
Since her tragic loss, Heather has been taking it one day at a time.
“Nobody teaches you how to do this,” she said. “Life just happens and I don’t know, I feel like at this point it’s almost breath by breath. Sometimes it feels like you can’t breathe and other times you just cherish the moments that you had together. But I have a very supportive family and so does he and you have to get through this, our community has to get through this. “
She’s also received an outpouring of love and support from friends.
“It wasn’t just a loss for me it was a loss for the world and for the community,” Heather said. “I think anybody who ever met Sonny just described him as the most sincere, warm, and caring person. He could walk in a room and smile that infectious smile and people just really felt that he cared for them. I got dozens of letters from people he cared for when he was an ER and ICU nurse that just praised how he cared for them and their families.”
Melton was a 2015 graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Following his death, members of the school community spoke out about him.
“You know how when you met someone and you just know that they’re good and kind? That was Sonny,” Christy Davis, assistant professor of nursing, wrote in a Facebook post. “He just had a sweet, kind spirit about him.”
Melton will be remembered fondly by employees of the Henry County Medical Center, where his wife also worked.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire HCMC family are with Sonny and Heather’s families,” Thomas Gee, CEO at Henry County Medical Center, wrote on the hospital’s website. “We ask that all staff, friends, and patients of the couple respect their privacy at this time and refrain from contacting the family and the HCMC Kelley Clinic if they do not have a reason to do so.”
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Meanwhile, authorities in Las Vegas are still searching for a motive for 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada — the gunman who opened fire Sunday night on the crowd of more than 22,000 from his 32nd-floor hotel room at the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 people and leaving 527 concertgoers injured.
When authorities entered Paddock’s room, they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There is no connection between the shooting and international terrorism, according to the FBI.
How to Help
Friends and family are asked to report missing people believed to be connected to the shooting using the hotline 1-800-536-9488
Anyone with photo or video evidence of the shooting is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Avictims’ fund has been started on GoFundMe by Steve Sisolak, the Clark County, Nevada, commission chair. Other groups providing relief include the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the National Compassion Fund