The hero dad who saved 30 people from the Las Vegas massacre choked up in tears when he heard the voice of the police officer who saved his life that night in one of the most emotional television interviews since the tragedy.
Jonathan Smith became the face of the heroes of the tragedy after stories emerged of him escaping the shooting, going back to help others and eventually being shot in the neck himself. Smith always declined the hero label, but a photo of him bandaged at the hospital has touched millions of people.
“I’m not a hero. I’m far from a hero. I think I just did what anybody would do,” Smith told CNN. “I just felt, you know what, if I can help one person or multiple people, at least that’s someone’s life that was spared.”
Officer Tom McGrath was there when Smith was shot in the neck and arm. McGrath stayed with Smith and comforted him on the way to the hospital. The two heroes now call each other brothers. The power of the bond they formed that night was obvious when McGrath joined a CNN interview with Smith. Even the reporter struggled to keep back her tears.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Smith said, choking up. “Honestly, I owe that man my life.”
“From the moment I got hit, he was the first one to help me stop the bleeding,” Smith said with a tear running down his right cheek. “He never left my side at all.”
Smith remembers how McGrath plugged his gunshot wound with a finger and helped haul him onto a red pickup truck. On the way to the hospital, the two experienced that fragile line between life and death.
“The whole time I thought honestly I would die. I really did,” Smith said. “I kept telling him, ‘I don’t wanna die’ and he kept saying ‘You’re not gonna die, I got you. Look at me. You’re not gonna die.'”
As the interview became more emotional, the reported had to pause to fight back tears while asking a question. During the intense moment, both men shared about the deeper meaning they discovered through the tragedy.
“This is what we should be doing. It didn’t matter what race I was. I didn’t matter what race anybody was,” Smith said. “All we see is a human life.”
“Nobody suffered alone. When people were dying there was somebody there who was holding their hand or holding them in their arms comforting them,” McGrath said. “When people had injuries, no matter how severe it was, trying to get them to safety. Nobody suffered alone.”
A bullet is still lodged in Smith’s neck and his shoulder is still numb. The first thing he wants to do is to get his strength back. But he said he’ll never forget the chaotic night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“I can’t not forget about what happened,” Smith said. “I relive it every day.”
McGrath told Smith to tap into the mentality he used during that night to get back up.
“He had that warrior mentality. He went in there,” McGrath said. “That’s the type of mentality that got him through that and what kept him alive.”
Both men were extraordinarily humble throughout the interview.
“I’m not a hero. I’m far from a hero,” Smith said. “I think I just did what anybody would do.”
McGrath, on the other hand, reserved the praise for Smith.
“I think he’s being too modest,” McGrath said. “I think what he did was extraordinary.”