When Gabriella Gaus and Brynn Ota-Mathews went to the annual California event four days ago, they would have called themselves just recent friends from work. But now after both were hit by gunfire -- Gabrielle in her shoulder and Brynn a bullet straight in her back -- they say they're bonded for life.
"Brynn and I were in a bounce house when I heard the shots go out," Gaus told reporters during a news conference at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Thursday. "We were barefoot and we ran out of the bounce house."
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The women, who work together at a restaurant in Santa Cruz, were shot while running in the parking lot.
"I remember Gabriella was screaming, 'I was hit. I was hit,'" Ota-Matthews recalled, "And I felt it in my back, and I thought maybe I was getting a cramp in my side from running. It took a really long time until I saw the blood on my hand to know."
They kept running until a Good Samaritan picked them up and drove them to the hospital. Gaus was released later that night. Ota-Matthews only released Thursday.
"I'm going to have a bullet in my liver for my whole life," Ota-Matthews said.
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It's a reality that's hard to comprehend, but event doctors were awed by their bravery.
"It's remarkable," Dr. Brian Saavedra, the medical director of the emergency department at St. Louise Regional Hospital said. "The two most calm people there were probably these two."
Still, the two friends say they can't stop thinking about that night and the moment they saw the gunman.
"He shot once, paused and then rapid fired," Gaus recalled, "So, I remember between those two seconds staring at him and he looked like a trained military professional."
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Gaus said this shooting is a reminder to watch out for your friends.
"Check in with your friends. If they're getting in to a certain ideology like watch it, see where it goes," she said. "If someone had maybe checked in on his mental health this maybe could have been stopped."
Thousands of dollars has been raised by friends and strangers to help Gaus and Ota-Matthew pay for their medical expenses. Neither of them have insurance.
"I'm just so happy to be alive," Ota-Matthews said. "And I want to send my love to those like the Irbys, the Salazars, the Romeros, that don't get to say that about their family."
Gaus chimed in, "Our hearts go out to those who aren't here to share their stories."
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