VANCOUVER, WA ( KPTV ) — The Las Vegas massacre in 2017 remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, and this weekend, it claimed another victim.
A Vancouver woman says her sister died this weekend, two years after she was shot in Las Vegas. The shooting left her paralyzed, and now 59 people dead.
Dena Sarvela remembers the tragedy that ultimately took her sister’s life, but she says it also robbed her of these last two years.
Sarvela lost her sister Friday night.
“She is, was, she still is… she’ll never leave my heart, ever,” Sarvela said.
On Oct. 1, 2017, at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, a gunman killed 58 people and wounded 413.
Sarvela’s sister, Kim Gervais, was struck by bullets.
“She went with two other friends, one walked out. She was in the hospital, rendered quadriplegic, and the other one, she saw die in front of her,” Sarvela said.
On Friday, Gervais’ heart stopped. The stress on her body was immense from the many injuries she sustained.
“She hurt. Even though she was paralyzed from the neck (down), she could feel all the pain,” Sarvela said. “There was scrap metal still in her because he used exploding bullets.”
The last two years as Sarvela describes, have been agony.
“It took almost a year before she was able to transport out to go back home to California, that was rough,” Sarvela said. “She lost her zest for life because of it, because of the shooting, because of her injuries that she sustained. It was hard to be that same person, that we all know and love.”
Gervais would be paralyzed.
“When I saw her, you could just tell. She was done,” said Sarvela. “I want to keep going and going and I just… it’s hard for me to find the words. That day it will never leave my mind, the day I got to see her.”
Gervais lost her husband in 2000. She raised two daughters, managed their small business alone, and loved to travel.
“She was ready to retire. Her and I spoke the night before she went to the concert. She was going to sell the business, she was ready to just go abroad and enjoy life, like she should have, and it was snatched from her. She worked her life, and butt off for – just to go enjoy, you know, and she doesn’t get that, she doesn’t get that chance,” Sarvela said.
For Sarvela, her sister’s passing is bittersweet. She knows she was afforded the time that many didn’t get, while she was also released of her pain.
“I also know she was missing her husband very, very much, and that’s what gives me hope – that she’s with him right now. Gives me a lot of hope, and I know they are,” Sarvela said.
Her loved older sister, Gervais, is the 59th victim.
“She was my sister, my caregiver, you know, even though I do have a mother, she basically raised us, and she was amazing, and I thank her very much to this day for helping me be who I am. And I hope she’s proud, because she’s a big part of that,” Sarvela said.
While two years since the shooting have been painful, Sarvela says there were bright moments. She was able to see her grandchild born, and for that they’re grateful.
Two memorial services are planned for Gervais: one at her Los Angeles home, and another in Kansas City, where they grew up together.
Sarvela and her brother plan to take her ashes on a road trip across the United States in her memory, something they used to do together as kids.