Kayla Klufas was heading back to her hotel when Stephen Paddock rained down gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Palm Coast resident Kayla Klufas was taking an Uber back to her room at the Flamingo Las Vegas at around 10 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2, when the traffic on the highway came to a sudden halt.
Cars upon cars stood stacked along the roadway entering the Las Vegas Strip.
Then the ambulances and police cars started to rush by, heading toward the downtown area.
Klufas didn’t realize it immediately, but the first responders were rushing to the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the scene of what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.
“We just kind of thought it was a car accident [at first],” said Klufas, who arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 30, for an evaluation expo for property appraisers.
At the time, law enforcement weren’t sure if there was only one shooter.
“That made it scary, too,” Klufas said. “We thought, ‘Oh gosh, where’s a safe place to go?’ So, it was very unnerving.”
Klufas, 30, said it took an hour to get back to her hotel. She hugged her Uber driver goodbye and departed with words of safety and encouragement. However, the Flamingo was on lockdown. No one could enter the hotel until about midnight, and once the hotel doors opened, guests were not allowed to leave.
“I felt a little better once I got inside the hotel,” she said. “At least I had a roof over my head.”
Klufas and her co-workers are safe. They return home to Palm Coast on Thursday, Oct. 5.
But the reality of what happened — 59 dead and over 500 injured — still weighs on her.
“I’ve been trying to avoid looking at the news,” Klufas said. “It’s gut-wrenching to see the number of people affected. And the number just keeps rising. … I just can’t imagine hearing that [gunfire]. I just thought about what I would do: I don’t know.”