Roy Exum: Tracking Down Taylor

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A manhunt following the stealing of a truck during the Las Vegas shooting tragedy came to a delightful close on Monday when Taylor Winston turned himself in to “authorities” in Gilbert, Arizona. The catch is that “headquarters” was the B5 Motors dealership and our “culprit,” a 29-year-old Marine veteran who fought in Afghanistan, is a far-greater hero than a thief.

With the Facebook nation, the Las Vegas police and an adoring public on the lookout, his hope of obscurity was dashed when he was quickly tracked down in San Diego. Yes, all of the major news outlets pounced and yesterday he was back in Vegas to be awarded the keys to a free and sparkling Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Watson, you may remember, had to literally steal a pick-up truck from a parking lot after automatic gunfire interrupted the two-step dance he was enjoying. He and his girlfriend were at the deadly Route 91 Harvest music concert in Las Vegas nine days ago. But after they raced to safety, he commandeered a white Chevy that the owner had miraculously left the keys in the switch, defied the constant gunfire and frantically packed as many of the critically wounded as he could into the truck before speeding to Desert Springs Hospital.

Then he raced the stolen truck back to the still-riotous scene and loaded as many more of the badly-hurt concert victims as the truck would hold, rushing them to the same hospital. Accounts vary but there is no doubt he saved the lives of many of the 30 victims he rescued.

"It's very, very courageous what he did," dealership owner Shane Beus told an Arizona newspaper. "He was willing to risk his life and run back into the storm and help. I don’t care if he keeps the truck, gives it away, or sells it … I just want to express my appreciation for what he did.”

The owner of the stolen truck was also thrilled with the Marine’s bravery. After getting Winston’s cell number from police, the unidentified owner sent this unedited text: "Hey Taylor told you might have the keys to my truck?? All I want is the key. Other then that its all water under the bridge to me and hows the people you hauled doing?"

Taylor immediately replied, "I have em for ya. When do you want to meet for em? We're at the Monte Carlo. I took about 30 critically injured to the hospital. Your truck was extremely important saving those peoples lives. I don't know if they all made it. Sorry about doing so and all the blood"

Seconds later, Taylor added, “I saved the tool box too. We pulled it out to carry more people but put it back in after the third trip.” (By then emergency responders had secured the scene.)

Winston downplayed his heroics. “There’s a lot of unsung heroes that day who just wanted to help people.” He explained when the shooting began, he and his girlfriend ran for safety. “There was this fence and I threw a bunch of people over it.  I saw a parking lot filled with trucks and the first one I opened had the keys in it … I started looking for people to take to the hospital,” Winston told CBS. “There was just too many, and it was overwhelming how much blood was everywhere.”

“We went back into the gunfire and started looking for priority victims, people with the most serious injuries, to get to the hospital,” Winston said.

He said he joined the Marines right after high school and served until recently. He credited the Corps with his ability to remain calm and focused, and says he’ll keep the truck. He’ll sell his older car and – you guessed it – give all the proceeds to the Las Vegas victims’ fund.

Semper Fi. Indeed.

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