It is in times of tragedy when heroes rise. And during what was dubbed the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, a Boholano was among those who stepped up as chaos reigned.
Winifredo Maquindang, a native of Loboc, was driving his taxi right in front the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino along the Las Vegas strip when gunfire suddenly rained down on concertgoers across the famed hotel.
It seemed like fireworks at first, said Maquindang.
But as screams and shattered glass joined the cacophony of the loud and busy Vegas strip, he was then sure that something had gone wrong.
“In the third round of gunfire, I knew that it was not fireworks. Broken glass of the Mandalay Bay started to fall so I left the area,” said Maquindang in Cebuano.
But the Boholano did not flee.
He said that he ended up right in front of the Route 91 Harvest music festival where the volley of gunfire was centered.
“I was there. There were so many dead people. They were down, and some laid on the ground while others were walking while crying,” Maquindang said.
But amid the hail of bullets, which at the time still came from an unknown location, Maquindang decided to take in as much injured people as possible.
His taxi could only fit four, but he brought in six wounded victims into the vehicle and rushed them to a hospital some 30 minutes away from the ongoing carnage.
“My taxi was filled with blood,” said Maquindang.
“I thought they were about to die. They were hit badly with very big wounds in their backs, in the neck, hands, legs.”
Maquindang who has been a professional driver for over four decades in the US put his driving skills to test as he zoomed through the chaos in an attempt to save his bloodied passengers’ lives.
“I drove at around 80 mph [128 kph] through the street where there were also many other vehicles and I didn’t stop at traffic lights,” he said. “I just thanked God we didn’t get into an accident.”
Maquindang made it out of the chaos and safely reached the hospital.
He had escaped death, taking along with him six wounded individuals. But the veteran cabby felt that he still had part to play in transporting more victims to safety.
He wanted to go back and join rescue operations but all routes towards the bloodbath had been blocked by authorities, said Maquindang.
“I was about to go back to the scene but roads were no longer passable so I just went home and told my boss about what happened,” he added.
For now, the Boholano is just thankful for his safety while he intends to go back to the hospital to visit the mass shooting victims who he risked his life for.
“They all reached the hospital but I will be visiting to check up on them,” he said.
Maquindang has been living in the US for 47 years and driving professionally for most of the time.
He had just recently relocated to Nevada and was mostly driving in Los Angeles, California just several weeks prior to the mass shooting on October 2 which was carried out by a lone gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a hotel.
The sniper was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada but no motive on the brutal massacre that killed 58 people and left hundreds injured has been known yet.
Paddock killed himself before authorities could get to him. (AD)