Two of the most recognizable survivors of 1 October have shared their journey exclusively with 8 News NOW.
Following their journey from the beginning, Gianna and Natalia Baca, also known to the world as the Baca twins have been dealing with the aftermath of the country’s deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
It’s been one year since the twins entire world changed when they were shot at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
For the Baca family, every single day is a roller coaster ride of emotions.
“It’s been hard,” said Cindy Baca, the twins’ mother. “There’s like a new normal in our house. You just never know how they’re going to wake up.”
Christianne Klein, Reporter: “Are they having nightmares?
Cindy Baca: “Yes sometimes they do.”
Christianne: “What wakes you up?”
Gianna Baca: “I feel like it’s the memory. Just that night going through it again
Natalia: “Just the memories replaying.”
The reality of life a year after the deadly 1 October mass shooting is a family struggling to deal with the emotional wounds of the victims and the caretaker.
The twins still deal with the physical trauma of being shot. There are still bullet fragments permanently lodged in their bodies that causes Gianna daily pain. Natalia has her chest x-ray in a frame in her bedroom.
But for Cindy Baca, she’s constantly dealing with the neverending pain of a mother trying to help her daughters cope.
Christianne Klein, Reporter: “What’s been the hardest part of this last year?”
Cindy Baca: “Just watching the girls just kind of struggle, and not being able to do anything to fix it.”
1 October has left its mark on this family. Good days can turn bad in a heartbeat, and anything can trigger a traumatic memory. When Cindy took the twins to Disneyworld for a graduation trip, the normal Disney crowds were viewed as a potential threat.
“One day we were in one of the parks, and they had a daytime show and they shot some fireworks off, and it set one of the girls off really bad,” Cindy Baca said. “I didn’t know what it was cause we lost her and then my friend noticed and she found her in a corner crying. I thought it was teenage girl stuff. She was scared. She thought it was like gunshots. Then I felt horrible.”
Gianna: “I feel like I’m always scanning and like looking out windows and just making sure that everything around me is safe.”
Christianne: “Do you think this is how you’ll live the rest of your life and how they’ll live the rest of their lives?
Cindy Baca: “Absolutely; absolutely. There’s not a movie that I go to that I don’t think about how could I get out. There’s not a time when they walk out the door that I don’t wonder when they don’t call.”
Like so many other survivors and their families, it’s the emotional trauma and the new and permanent life changes that haunt them.
Christianne: “Are you guys surprised that you’re still on this roller coaster; this emotional rollercoaster a year later?
Gianna: “Yeah, it’s scary to think about in the past what emotions I’ve felt and why I was feeling this way. Now, they’re like coming back and I understand why it was happening.”
Christianne: “Like what?”
Gianna: “I feel like every day I’m literally walking on eggshells, but I’m so used to it now that it’s like my life and I just have to keep walking.”
The Baca family says the outpouring of support from our community has helped them with the daily challenges of life after a mass shooting. Both Gianna and Natalia are now enrolled in beauty school and set to graduate soon, but they acknowledge that 1 October is now part of their history and their life story.