BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bailey Schweitzer would be 23 years old — would be if not for the incomprehensible events of Oct. 1, 2017 — three years ago today.
That evening a lone gunman opened fire on a packed outdoor concert venue in Las Vegas, inflicting physical and psychological wounds on the 22,000 people in attendance — and on the untold numbers back home.
Fifty-eight concert goers died — four of them with Kern County ties, including the youngest victim, Bakersfield’s Bailey Schweitzer.
Bailey was like most any other girl her age — carefree, energetic, fun-loving — but also unlike girls her age, too. She actually liked hanging out with her parents, liked hanging out at the racetrack that’s been the family business since she was in grade school.
“Go do teenager stuff,” parents Crissy and Scott Schweitzer would tell her, not a common directive from attentive parents.
Those are the kinds of memories they treasure now — and will treasure always.
Scott Schweitzer says he continues to get to know the daddy’s girl he knew so well already.
“It was amazing to hear the stories we heard after that (tragedy), how she touched other people’s lives,” he said.
Stories he hadn’t heard before?
“Exactlym” he said. “Those are the things that are keeping us going.”
Bailey is as much as presence in the Schweitzer house as she ever was — more so, in one sense. Her favorite color, teal, is everywhere, from the teal front door to the teal snails throughout the house and yard.
Her motto — “Saved by Grace” — is everywhere including on her mother’s forearm, a duplicate of the one Bailey convinced her mother to allow her to get. The Schweitzers are determined to keep her presence with them always.
“I have a hard time doing anything if it does not involve her,” she said. “She has to be involved. “She did (hang out with her family) when she was here, so I have to keep it going. Because we didn’t do anything without her.”
One of bailey’s great loves was Bakersfield Speedway, the dirt track racing oval the family bought almost 20 years ago. She worked the concession stand from the age of 10, standing on a stool to sell hot dogs and popcorn.
Bakersfield speedway is shut down now, like so much else, because of the pandemic, so the Schweitzers have added a financial burden to their emotional burden. But the Schweitzers, who will celebrate 31 years of marriage next year, say their family is tight and their resolve mighty.
“We have a strong family, so we know we’ll see Bailey again in heaven,” Scott said. “We just have to … continue living for our boys, for our two beautiful grandkids that we have. And we do it so we can spread her legacy.”
A judge on Wednesday approved an $800 million settlement for the victims of the mass shooting. The deal between MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing thousands of the victims means payments could begin in January.
The Schweitzers declined to say what their share of the settlement might be — but said they hope it’s somehow a stepping stone in the long healing process.