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How Natalie Grumet Stumbled Upon A Stranger Who Saved Her Life In Las Vegas Massacre

Image by Facebook

If Natalie Grumet had not sought refuge in the Tropicana Hotel after being shot in the Las Vegas massacre last week, she may not have escaped with her life.

Grumet and her friend, who was also shot, happened to bang on the door of a laundry room where Dr. Larry Bohlen and his wife Laura, a nurse, were hiding amid the carnage and chaos.

They saw that Grumet had been shot in the jaw and that blood was clogging her airway. The Bohlens acted quickly, putting Grumet in a reclining office chair and doing their best to give her a chance to breathe.

Awake and frightened, Grummet spent the next 45 minutes as the group waited for an ambulance telling the Bohlens her life story: how she had survived breast cancer, how much she loves her dog Guinness and about the love of her life, her husband Jason.

“Being able to communicate with her was the biggest blessing for us that she was alert and able to communicate well,” Laura Bohlen told the Hastings Tribune. “She was very soft spoken and her biggest thing was she was in so much pain.”

When the ambulance came, the Bohlens let Grumet go alone — they still had not reunited with their daughters, both of whom were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival where 59 people were killed on October 1st. They had never learned her name.

Larry Bohlen posted about their encounter with Grumet on Facebook, whom he could only identify as “the lady from California with the neck and face wound.” Within an hour, he had been connected with Grumet’s family.

Bohlen has since struck up a rapport with Grumet’s husband Jason. Bohlen, an orthopedic surgeon, has been something of a sounding board for Jason’s questions and concerns over Grumet’s healing process. Her doctor’s have told the family they expect her to be in the hospital for several weeks. She will likely require multiple reconstructive surgeries for the damage done to her jaw.

“That night she said she was a breast cancer survivor and he said, ‘If you survived that, you’re surviving this. We’re not going to lose you tonight,’” Laura Bohlen told the Hastings Tribune. “She’s changed who we are, incredibly.”

Last week Grumet was transported by air ambulance from a hospital in Las Vegas to a large medical complex in Orange County, California, where Grumet works as an ultrasound technician. Grumet’s coworkers met her at the entrance to the hospital with a large banner reading, “We Love You Natalie!!”

Grumet’s coworkers welcoming her home. Image by Lori Weisel

On Friday the hospital held a prayer service for Grumet and her family. A staff member from the hospital read the misheberach, the Hebrew prayer of healing, in English.

On Sunday, Grumet was able to stand with assistance from hospital staff, according to her step-mother, Lori Weisel. She walked to her husband and gave him a big hug, Weisel said. Grumet was recently weaned off the ventilator that was supporting her breathing, and is now more alert and focused than she was in the days after the shooting.

Weisel said that Grumet has constant visits from friends and family. They are helping fill in a log book with their recollections of the events of the shooting and where they were when they heard about Natalie’s injury. Weisel said that this journal will help Grumet piece together the events of the shooting and the days after — events she may not remember on her own.

Jason Grumet spends every day in his wife’s hospital room, Weisel said.

“He’s here first thing in the morning, and he’s the last one to leave,” she said.

In order to make sure that Jason was eating, Weisel says that she and his mother did “what any self-respecting Jewish mother would do”: they cooked knishes, blintzes and chicken matzo ball soup and brought the food to the Grumet’s condo.

Late last night, Weisel got a brief text from the beleaguered Jason: “The blintzes are good. Thank you.”

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter @aefeldman.

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