Las Vegas concert-goer and single father was shot in the back, but vows to only look forward without fear

October 11, 2017 6:19 pm Last Updated: October 11, 2017 6:19 pm

Phil Aurich and his girlfriend are happy to be alive today. Phil was a shooting victim at the recent massacre in Las Vegas and has been fighting to recover. How someone bounces back from something like that is only known by each individual who was there. For 36-year-old Phil, it’s been the love of his two young children and an unexpected personal motivational message that has kept him going.

He reached for his phone to call his family.

When Phil was shot in the back as he ran for cover with his girlfriend, Ali, and the others at the October 1 outdoor concert, he reached for his phone and called his brother and sister-in-law. His sister-in-law answered, but hung up thinking he had called them by mistake. They knew he was at the concert.

They hadn’t heard about the shooting yet.

“We got a call in the middle of the night,” explained Phil’s sister-in-law Sheila Aurich in an interview with Valley News Live. “And Ben’s phone rang and it was Phil. We turned it off because we knew he was at the concert and I was like, ‘It’s probably a butt dial.'”

They hadn’t yet heard of the shooting but would soon come to know that he was one of the more than 500 people who were injured in the shooting. Then came the second call just seconds after the first. It was Phil again. They heard background noise then Ali screaming, “Ben, Phil’s been shot.”

Phil had been shot, and they were running for help.

Meanwhile, Phil and Ali were running toward emergency rescue personnel that were on the scene. “They had seen three ambulances and a cop car blocking them off,” Sheila said. As they approached, all three vehicles pulled away, but another police car helped them out: “I am not supposed to leave, but get in,” the cop said to the couple, Sheila recalled.

He was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

Phil was seriously injured, but still conscious when they arrived at University Medical Center. Within 12 hours, he had undergone two surgeries to save his life.

“He had some fairly serious organ damage,” said Sheila. “They had to remove his spleen, part of his colon, a ruptured diaphragm, which collapsed a lung, and a fractured rib.”

Finally he was able to see his kids.

Phil has spent the last week in ICU, unable to see his children because of his recovery. He was working hard to get out of the ICU, motivated in large part by his wanting to see his two kids. 

“Late Saturday night he was moved out of ICU,” Sheila said. On Sunday, his two children were able to see their dad. “It was a great surprise that we got them in there,” Sheila said.

He also got a surprise motivational message from a personal hero.

“Phil got a 2-minute personal video message from P.J. Fleck [University of Minnesota Head Football Coach], [it was] motivational and it was on the day he needed it,” Sheila said. “He was really struggling to push to do the exercises to get out of the ICU and that made a huge difference for him.”

They won’t let fear win.

The support he has received has changed him. Sheila said he and his girlfriend have both resolved not to succumb to fear or pain. “They have already said, ‘This is not going to stop us,'” Sheila said. “‘We’re going to go to plenty more concerts.’ And if they can do it, we can all do it too.”

Phil and Ali, along with their family, have expressed great sympathy for those who lost loved ones that night. They feel lucky to be alive and are redirecting any offers of donations to the children of another Minnesota single father, Steve Berger, who was killed in the shooting.