Markie Coffer was due to give birth at any moment when she attended a festival in Las Vegas. Tragedy struck at the show, however, when a horrific shooting occurred. And Coffer herself was lucky to escape with her life. But two days on from the massacre, she received the deliverance she may have been longing for.
Back in September 2017, Coffer and boyfriend Travis Matheson lived in Las Vegas with their children Ryder, Lylah and Kysen. And they were expecting their fourth child when they decided to attend the local Route 91 Harvest festival; in fact, Coffer was approximately one week past her due date at the time.
Knowing that she could go into labor at any moment didn’t stop Coffer from wanting to attend the festival, though. Indeed, the pregnant mom even thought that the excitement of the three-day event could potentially bring about the birth. In 2017 she would tell Las Vegas-based Fox affiliate KVVU-TV, “We decided, ‘Oh, we’ll go [to Route 91 Harvest]. Maybe it will help [my baby] come out.’ And we were just there having fun.”
So, Coffer, who works at Las Vegas Animal Emergency Hospital, went with her brother Cody and Matheson to all three days of the festival. What’s more, on the second day the couple let their kids accompany them – and according to Coffer herself, they loved being at the event. “[The children] had a blast,” she later revealed to KVVU-TV.
But Ryder, Lylah and Kysen weren’t present for the final day of Route 91 Harvest, for which Jason Aldean was the headliner. “We were really excited to see Jason Aldean, the main guy, so we definitely stayed to the end. And then, towards the end, it got crazy,” Coffer remembered.
At not long past 10:00 p.m. on October 1, 2017, Aldean had just completed performing his sixth song of the night. Then, all of a sudden, the audience of around 22,000 people were attacked as a gunman began firing into the arena.
The killer’s name was Stephen Paddock; he was staying at the adjacent Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and shot over 1,100 rounds into the crowd below. But amid all the chaos, Matheson knew he had to do whatever he could to protect the mother of his children and his unborn baby.
Matheson had previously served in the U.S. Army, and his training may very well have aided him when the shots rang out. In particular, the veteran realized that he, his partner and his brother-in-law needed to flee as quickly as possible. “I told her, ‘We got to get to safety and find somewhere to hide,’” Matheson later explained to KVVU-TV.
So, the couple and Coffer’s brother crawled their way out of the line of fire – but not before Cody was hit in the shoulder with a bullet. Still, even despite the injury, the trio realized that they had to keep moving. Eventually, then, they managed to get themselves out of harm’s way.
And, fortunately, someone was able to meet the three festival-goers and transport them to the nearest medical facility. “One of my brother’s friends picked us up and brought us straight [to the hospital],” Coffer would reveal to KVVU-TV. She added of the scene, “It was chaotic down there.”
Then, just a couple of days after she had endured the deadly shooting, Coffer received the salvation she may well have been looking for. That’s because she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Wyatt. And, happily, both mother and son were discharged the following day and told that they could go home.
Moreover, although Coffer’s brother was injured during the attack, he would go on to be informed that he would completely recover from being shot. Naturally, then, the new parents were extremely relieved that they and their family had made it out largely unscathed.
And Matheson admitted that he had considered that Wyatt may have grown up without his mom or dad. “I’m thankful nothing happened worse to any one of us… and we couldn’t be here for him. It was perfect timing for him,” he said. However, not everyone was as lucky as the couple.
In the end, the massacre killed 58 people and left 851 wounded; Paddock himself took his own life in his hotel room one hour after he had first started firing his weapon. It was the worst mass shooting that has ever been carried out by a single person in the history of the United States.
Then, just a few days after he came into the world, Wyatt took part in a newborn photo session with MBF Photography. The resulting snaps show the baby dressed up to the nines in various outfits and held carefully in his parents’ hands. But one image is arguably even more poignant than the rest, as it makes reference to the horrific incident that happened just before Wyatt’s birth.
In the photo in question, Wyatt is posed lying on a tiny bed and wearing a cowboy hat, with a miniature guitar beside him. In front of the snoozing baby are illuminated letters spelling out the words “Vegas Strong.” And the studio revealed after the shoot that it was honored to work with Coffer, Matheson and their little boy.
Indeed, in the description section of a clip of the session that was posted to YouTube, MBF Photography wrote, “[Wyatt] is a beacon of hope. We feel so fortunate to have met both Wyatt and his parents. Thank you for trusting us to take photos of your beautiful baby boy. He is our Vegas Strong baby.”
And viewers seemed to be moved by the footage, with one individual commenting that the photo session was “beautiful.” Another person even admitted that watching the video had brought them to tears. “I live in Vegas, and this makes me cry,” they shared. “[Wyatt is] a hero to the family.”
Then, in December 2017 Coffer announced some happy news: Matheson had proposed, and the couple were now engaged. And it turned out that Wyatt wasn’t the only unborn survivor of the massacre, either. Kami Biorkman and Megan Panzera were both in the early stages of pregnancy when they found themselves at Route 91 Harvest Festival that fateful night, and they have each given birth to healthy babies since.
And while overcoming the shock and trauma of the shooting may have been difficult for Coffer and Matheson at first, little Wyatt was likely helping them through it. “He’s been unique since the beginning,” Coffer would tell KVVU-TV. Matheson added to the station, “[He is] a light at the end of the tunnel.”