The Las Vegas massacre in 2017 remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, and last week, the death toll climbed to 59 after it claimed another victim, according to KPTV in Portland, Oregon.
Southern California resident Kim Gervais’ wounds left her paralyzed and she died last Friday, more than two years after being shot at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in 2017, according to her sister Dena Sarvela.
KPTV reported that Gervais’ was in Los Angeles, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal said she lived in Mira Loma in Riverside County.
Sarvela — a resident of Vancouver, Washington — says the tragedy also robbed Gervais of the last two years of her life.
“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.”
On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman killed 58 people and wounded 413 at the country music festival before taking his own life.
Sarvela said her sister attended the event with two friends — one who survived, and one who died.
“One walked out. She was in the hospital, rendered quadriplegic,” Sarvela said. “And the other one she saw die in front of her.”
On Friday, Gervais’ heart stopped. The stress on her body was immense from the many injuries she sustained, her sister said.
“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.”
Sarvela describes her sister’s last two years alive as agony.
“When I saw her, you could just tell. She was done,” she said. “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.
Sarvela says the night before she went to the concert, Gervais told her she was to retire.
“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,” Sarvela said. “She worked her life and butt off for — just to go enjoy. And she doesn’t get that, she doesn’t get that chance.”
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,” Sarvela said.
While two years since the shooting have been painful, Sarvela says there were bright moments. Gervais was able to see her grandchild born, and for that they’re grateful.
Two memorial services are planned for Gervais: one at her Southern California 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.