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Las Vegas survivor Heather Melton on hero husband: 'I want the world to know how good he was'

Heather Melton says she is living life "breath to breath" after her husband died while shielding her from gunfire in the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
/ Source: TODAY

A woman whose husband died after shielding her from gunfire during the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas is living her life "breath by breath," but she wants the world know how much he meant to her.

Heather Melton lost her husband, Sonny, when he was shot in the back while the two tried to escape the massacre on Sunday that killed 59 people and injured more than 500.

"Nobody teaches you how to do this,'' Melton told Savannah Guthrie in an emotional interview on TODAY Wednesday. "Life just happens. I feel like at this point, it's just almost breath by breath. Sometimes you feel like you can't breathe, and other times you just cherish the moments that you had together."

The couple had traveled from their home in Tennessee to the Route 91 Harvest Festival to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

Sonny, 29, was a registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, who worked in the emergency room at Henry County Medical Center. He often worked side-by-side with Heather, who is an orthopedic surgeon.

"I think anybody who ever met Sonny described him as just the most sincere, warm-hearted, caring person,'' she said. "He could walk in a room and smile that infectious smile and people just really felt that he cared for them."

The couple was watching country music star Jason Aldean perform on Sunday when bullets began raining down from a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a hotel across the street. Sonny instinctively shielded Heather.

"I know he saved my life,'' she said. "I said, 'Let's get down,' and he said, 'No, we'll get trampled, let's go,' and he wrapped his arms around my back. And as we started to run, I felt him get shot in the back and we fell to the ground."

Heather gave Sonny CPR before two men carried him off the field to a pickup truck filled with other victims. The men continued CPR during the ride to the hospital and then stayed with Heather after they arrived there.

"I don't know their names,'' she said. "I was in too much shock to even ask, but I'm very grateful that I wasn't left alone."

The couple met while Heather was going through a divorce and raising three young children. They were married in June 2016.

She told TODAY she was nearly too overcome with grief to share her story. Their relationship, she said, "was a love I had never experience before ... the kind of love that fills you up every single day."

"I didn't want to do this at all, but I did not want the negative person to outshine the good souls that were lost, and I wanted the world to know how good Sonny was,'' she said.

"My son said to me, 'Mom, Sonny is an international hero, but he was always our hero before this even happened.' So this didn't just happen that one night, but he knows that his mother was saved by Sonny and now the world knows."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.