Raleigh man survived 9/11 and Las Vegas mass shooting

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Mike Dempsey sat at his dining-room table in his north Raleigh home Monday night and shared his story of surviving both the 9/11 terror attacks and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App

"One thing you don't envision is scenarios like a plane hitting the World Trade Center," Dempsey said. "You don't envision a shooter firing bullets onto a crowd."

"I was under the point of impact when the second plane hit Tower 2," Dempsey said. He described evacuating but then getting trampled by the crowd.

He survived.

On Oct. 1, 2017, he again found himself looking for safety in the midst of yet another national tragedy.

"Maybe God has a higher purpose for me," Dempsey said.

He was not attending the country music festival in Las Vegas. He was in the pool area, outdoors, of the Mandalay Bay Resort. He was celebrating a friend and had no idea what was about to erupt from a window 32 floors up.

"I was literally under where the shooter was firing his rounds," Dempsey described. "It's your wildest imagination so it kind of invades your security."

He ran for cover inside the hotel's casino. Dempsey described it as complete chaos. This time around, he said the chaos was different. Why? In part, social media.

Dempsey said in 9/11, with the technology of the day in 2001, there was none of that. But in Las Vegas, he was constantly seeing posts on social media and getting text messages from friends. He also saw rumors being circulated, which added to the panic.

Though the chaos was different, the feeling after was eerily similar, Dempsey said.

He said for days there's an adrenaline rush that keeps you going and then a crash. For him, that came on Wednesday last week.

"I was good for 48 hours and then I just tanked," Dempsey said. "You start reliving, just little triggers and it just doesn't go away. You start having anxiety attacks, sleepless nights."

Right now, he said he's holding on, and it helps being back with his family. Trying to give back by helping others also helps the psyche.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Dempsey said he threw himself into charities to help survivors. This time around, he's doing the same and hoping to make a difference.

Donate to Las Vegas Victims
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.