Stranger Who Threw Body in Front of Pregnant Woman at Vegas Shooting Meets Baby She Protected


In times of terrible tragedy and heartbreak, stories of heroes emerge who risked it all to save just one life.

During the Oct. 1 massacre at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, 52-year-old Sue Ann Cornwell was among one of the many heroes of that day.

Miriam Lujan, at the time of the shooting, was seven months pregnant and enjoying the concert with two of her friends. She crept up closer to the stage by herself to see Jason Aldean and stood behind Cornwell and her sister Billie Jo LaCount.

When the gunfire started, LaCount covered Lujan’s stomach with a pink backpack the sisters had with them and Cornwell lay on top of her sister and the pregnant woman to protect them both.

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“I don’t want my baby to die,” Lujan said. Cornwell replied, “Your baby’s not dying on my watch.”

The women ducked behind a lemonade stand during a lull and eventually escaped through a knocked-down fence without remembering to exchange names.

Months after that awful night, Lujan was scrolling through comments on a Facebook group for Route 91 survivors and found the woman who saved her and her baby’s lives.

“I’m so glad you found me,” Cornwell said. “I’ve been looking.”

The women finally reunited in the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden and Cornwell got to meet the baby who she was able to save.

Cornwell took baby Xander in her arms and the 4-month-old began to cry. In the same way she reassured his mother all those months ago, Cornwell also calmly spoke to the boy.

“Auntie Sue Ann’s got you. You can cry all you want; we are just happy you’re crying,” the woman said.

The retired school bus driver brought little Xander books, a yellow toy school bus and cowboy boots along with other gifts.

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“He’s already part of history, and he doesn’t even know it,” Cornwell said. “Out of all the ugly, here’s this child that survived.”

Lujan added, “I want him to remember the good moments. I want him to remember those people that did not make it and to remember that people will help strangers survive. And if anything were to happen similar to him like that, I hope he would be able to do the same.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith