Patience Carter’s world was rocked June 12th, 2016, the night she survived the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
Carter, a student at New York University, was one of 53 people injured in the Pulse nightclub shooting. It was her first time in Orlando, on vacation with a friend’s family when she entered Pulse Night Club on that Saturday night.
Over the past year, Carter has gone through the unimaginable. The physical, mental, and emotional toll has been a battle for Carter, who deals with last year’s tragedy every day.
“I surprised myself physically and emotionally,” Carter said. “The emotional thing was the easiest for me to come to terms a lot quicker.”
But the physical aspect was harder for her.
“With my legs, I couldn’t do anything,” Carter said. “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself for a long period of time. I was so dependent on everyone around me and I was so used to being independent.”
Carter was shot in both of her legs, and luckily escaped—but the final bullet that was meant for her was blocked by someone else. That person was Jason Josaphat, a 19-year-old from Mesa, Arizona, who was one of the 49 people killed that night.
The realization came weeks after the shooting, when Carter attended the Teen Choice Awards, along with other Pulse survivors. All the survivors in attendance went around and told their stories of that night. When Carter spoke about how someone shielded her, Josaphat’s brother (who was in attendance), started to make the connection that it was Jason who had saved Carter’s life.
Carter said she was in the bathroom when the gunman was shooting, and felt someone leaning on her injured leg. During the few seconds, Carter had asked the person to move off her leg due to the excruciating pain that had torn through her bone from the bullet. She only looked into that person’s eyes for a spilt second.
Carter recognized those same eyes on the shirt Josaphat's brother was wearing. The shirt had a picture of Jason.
“I looked into Jason’s eyes, and I knew it was him, ” Carter said.
Carter was overcome with emotion as she broke down in tears in front of everyone. It was Jason who had shielded her. It was Jason’s scream she heard in her ear, the same scream his mother heard before the phone went silent.
“I felt so guilty then, and I had to go through that process all over again. I’m sitting here looking at (Jason’s) brother, sister, aunts, and mother and he saved me. Here I am standing in front of them; not the person they loved the most.”
Carter said Jason’s mother and aunt embraced her immediately, and told her that they were proud of Jason for saving her. If they hadn’t given here that reassurance, Carter said she would have been in a “darker place” right now, due to the guilt.
Through Carter’s journey has been a self guided one, she said the support from her friends and family has been overwhelming. Carter also receives messages and comments daily, encouraging her to keep going. It is those messages, she said, that are reminders to push through.
“I feel stronger,” Carter said. “I feel like I can do anything”
Carter, a full-time college student, said she’s not sure of her future plans just yet, but knows she wants to do and be so much—in honor of Jason.
“It’s hard because I want to do so much,” Carter said. “Knowing that I’m living for someone now—I feel like I have to do something amazing. I want to figure out what my destiny is and honor (Jason) in the best way possible.”