- Austin and Chantal met at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 30, 2017.
- On the next night, the two were watching a concert when a gunman started firing at the concertgoers non-stop.
- Austin protected Chantal and led her out of the concert area and out of danger. The two became engaged in March 2019 and got married in San Diego.
On Sept. 30, 2017, Austin Monfort first saw Chantal Melanson at a country bar in Las Vegas. Both were strangers from different places, Austin from California and Chantal from Canada, and were in town to attend the Route 91 Harvest festival—a three-night event starring various artists.
It was the second night of the event when Austin, 24, took the courage to approach Chantal and try his luck—but he got rejected quickly.
“I was with my girls and I gave him a hard time for not wearing cowboy boots at a country bar,” Chantal, 29, told PEOPLE.
But he did not lose faith and asked Chantal one more time for a dance. So they did, talked for hours, and exchanged numbers.
“After I got over him not wearing cowboy boots [laughs], I thought he was really nice, handsome and tall,” she says. “He was so easy to talk to, it felt like we knew each other forever.”
On Oct. 1, Chantal invited Austin to join her and enjoy the last performances of the festival. Little did they know, a very unfortunate incident was about to unfold.
As the country star, Jason Aldean, was wrapping up his show, a succession of loud bangs were heard! It was coming from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay hotel nearby. A 64-year-old man went berserk firing into the 22,000 concert crowd using high-powered weapons through the window in his hotel room that he’d broken.
“We were just listening to music having a good time,” Austin said. “Until we realized that the noises weren’t fireworks, they were gunshots.”
“I thought it was fireworks at the beginning,” Chantal adds. “When I realized what was happening, I started panicking.”
Instinctively, Austin guided Chantal as they ran out of the concert area and did his best to protect the woman she knew only for a day.
There were 58 people killed in the incident and the 59th died in November 2019 due to her injuries.
In the following months, they both kept in contact until their friendship turned into a romantic relationship.
Now, the couple is married and they are living in California.