A woman from Huntington Beach, California, who was in Las Vegas and celebrating her 28th birthday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival was one of the 58 people killed in the mass shooting on Sunday night. The gunman also died and more than 520 were wounded in what was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Andrea Castilla was in the crowd with her boyfriend, Derek Miller, and her sister, Athena, 26, who lives in Las Vegas. A video posted on Instagram in the moments before the shots began ringing out showed her laughing and dancing.
That all changed tragically when Stephen Paddock, 64, began raining bullets indiscriminately and in rapid-fire succession from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street. Andrea was struck in the head. According to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her memorial service, Andrea was holding hands with her sister when the bullet hit her. “We just weren’t sure what it was at first,” Athena told PEOPLE in an interview. Like many, they thought the sound of the gunshots were part of the show. “Then everyone started running. Her whole hair was drenched in blood. The gunshots kept going and going. We were just praying we were going to make it.”
At that point, Miller and Athena, along with help from her fiancé, Shane Armstrong, carried Andrea out of the venue and onto a street, where they flagged down a motorist who gave them a ride to the hospital, where Andrea was later pronounced dead.
In an interview with The Washington Post, her older brother, Adam Castilla, remembered Andrea as a kind woman, brimming with life and ambition. “My sister was really happy. She was living her life and had so many dreams and aspirations,” he said. “She didn’t have one bad bone in her body. Every time I saw her she managed to make everything good.”
“She loved hiking,” Adam added in an interview with PEOPLE. “She loved being healthy. She drank green tea. She wanted to live a long life, you could tell. Anything that had to do with being in good shape, she was passionate about — not just looking good, but feeling good.” She also was planning a life with Miller, her boyfriend, according to Athena. And unbeknownst to Andrea, Miller had planned to propose to her while they were in Las Vegas “He told me after she had passed,” Athena told PEOPLE. “They were planning on staying on until Thursday in our guest room.[Miller] told me, ‘I was planning on asking her this weekend with you guys. We talked about spending the rest of our lives together.’” Below is Andrea’s final Facebook post, made a month ago, showing her and Miller together.
Andrea also had a very altruistic streak in her, a trait her brother says she inherited from her late mother. Andrea had also wanted to use her talents to help others. She worked at a makeup artist in at a Sephora in Huntington Beach and had said she wanted to launch a service to help cancer patients. In 2003, her mother died of cancer and as her health declined, Andrea would often do her makeup as a way of lifting her spirits.
“She already had a few she was working with,” Adam told The Washington Post. “She was helping them feel beautiful.”
For more on the victims who lost their lives in Las Vegas, visit The Washington Post, which is keeping a comprehensive log of their individual stories.