CARPINTERIA, Calif. - Friends and family members are stunned as they find the words to remember Denise Cohen, a Carpinteria resident who died in Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Cohen and her companion Derrick "Bo" Taylor were attending the Route 91 Festival, an event they had planned on for weeks.
The two were part of about 20,000 people attending a country music concert that was in the line of fire of a crazed gunman. Police said Stephen Paddock used a high-powered gun at will from a high-rise window at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel -- aiming directly into the concert spectators.
Cohen lived for the past two years with Leana Orsua in Carpinteria.
One of her two sons, Jeff Rees sent a message to Orsua saying, "Our mother was such a strong beautiful and happy woman who made a difference to the lives of everyone she knew. She was such a happy person and enjoyed doing the things in life that she loved. We can see by the last photo of her that she was indeed happy and with a person that loves her, Bo."
Orsua said the two met at a social gathering, quickly became friends, then roommates and spent many hours together.
"She was more than just a friend to me, she was like a sister or a family member," said Orsua. "She was a very active social person she touched so many lives. She was a super positive, genuine, kind-hearted individual."
Cohen was a property manager in Santa Barbara and becoming more active in her church.
This weekend she had planned to be a volunteer at the California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria in the merchandise booth.
Orsua has been in touch with family members throughout the painstaking hours when Cohen and Taylor had not been heard from. It continues to be unbelievable in every way. "I can't even wrap my head around the hole left in our hearts right now. She is going to be missed by so many people," she said.
Many bright photos of Cohen have been out on social media sites in the last two days to help those who knew her get through this dark time with uplifting memories.
Orsua reached out to her saying, " Denise, we love you so much, I know you are in heaven right now dancing to a country song, and dancing and smiling at all of us. I will never forget you. I wish you were here and I love you so much."
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/denise-cohen-family-memorial-fund.