Woman badly wounded in Las Vegas shooting narrowly escapes paralysis

Kristin Babik

CBS News

More than 500 people were injured in Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas and about a quarter of them are still hospitalized. Kristin Babik was wounded as the crowd of 22,000 people began running in terror when a gunman opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

After being shot in the back and nearly becoming paralyzed, Babik says she's just thankful to have survived. She told "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell that Sunday's night's show began like any other concert.

Disbelief is how Babik describes the moment she heard the first spray of gunfire on Sunday.

"I couldn't believe at the time that it was a gun, and I didn't want to," Babik said. "There was even some people who were yelling, 'Don't worry, don't worry. It's nothing.' Second time came around, more people started to realize what it was. And after the third time, we knew."

A bullet struck the 24-year-old in the back, coming very close to her spine. Her friend said Babik felt like a water balloon had hit her.
 
"I said that because after I was hit, I felt like a splatter or something wet drip down where I was hit. So I was like oh, maybe someone threw their drink or maybe someone's just being silly," she said. "I started running toward the back. And I realized I couldn't breathe."

Bleeding and fighting for air, Babik continued running alongside her friend Joseph Ostunio.

"We made our way to a fence because the other exits were too full and there were people on the other side helping people get over. And someone caught me. And I was so scared. And they gave me the biggest hug. And they told me everything's gonna be okay," she recounted.

Babik was rushed by ambulance to University Medical Center with broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Now in her third year of law school at the University of Florida, she had one question for the doctor.
 
"I kept asking him, 'Am I gonna be okay? All I want to do is graduate law school.' And when she told me the bullet was in my spine or close to it, then my second question was, 'Am I gonna be paralyzed? Am I gonna be able to walk again?' And she told me when I woke up after they put the tube in my chest, 'You're gonna graduate and you're gonna be able to run a marathon. You're gonna run again."

Babik still has the concert wristband on her arm.  

"Yeah, I haven't cut it off yet. I don't know if I should or not," she said.  

The law student says surviving Sunday's shooting has renewed her sense of purpose to become a criminal prosecutor after she graduates in May.
 
"As long as there's no more tubes in my chest, I think I'll be able to walk across the stage," she said.

Babik says she will be released from the hospital once her lung is able to inflate correctly on their own. She said that before she got in the ambulance and strangers were trying to help her stop the bleeding, the only thing she could think about was holding onto her phone so she could call her mom back home. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Kristin Babik.