One of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting got engaged to her boyfriend in New Zealand just five months ago.

Sandy Casey of Redondo Beach, California, was one of at least 59 people killed when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort in the famous Nevada city.

Country music star Jason Aldean was performing Sunday night at the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival in front of a crowd of more than 22,000 when the gunman opened fire from across the street.

Casey, a special education teacher from Manhattan Beach Middle School, was at the festival with her fiance Christopher Willemse.

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He reportedly proposed to the 35-year-old at the end of a holiday in New Zealand.

Sandy Casey. Supplied
Sandy Casey. Supplied

The pair spent 10 days exploring the country, according to the Washington Post.

"In early April, on the last day of their 10-day vacation in New Zealand, Christopher Willemse and his girlfriend, Sandy Casey, walked down a steep hill to a lake," the newspaper reported.

"As she played by the water's edge, Willemse took a ring out of his pocket.

"When she turned around he was down on one knee."

The couple planned to visit the final wedding venue on their list at the end of this month.

They worked together at the same school for seven years and had been a couple for three years.

A photograph posted on Casey's Facebook page shows the couple on April 30, her new ring visible and their faces beaming with happiness.

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Willemse reportedly held his fiancee in his arms as she died.

He said on Facebook: "The love and support that she and I have received during these trying times just shows how important this wonderful woman truly was.

"She lived life to the fullest and made me the happiest man in the world.

"I'm so grateful for the kind words and gestures, it means the world to me, especially for her."

Casey's family learned early Monday morning that she died in the shooting.

"Her parents ask for prayers and privacy for her sisters, co-workers, students and large extended family," Casey's family said.


Casey attended and played basketball at Burr and Burton Academy, Dorset town clerk Sandra Pinsonault told Burlington Free Press.

She attended the College of St Joseph in Rutland and obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

Pinsonault described Casey as a "fun-loving free spirit" who was always smiling.

"The community is definitely feeling the loss today," she said.

Casey had been teaching at the middle school for nine years.

The school district announced paid tribute to her on Monday.

"We lost a spectacular teacher who devoted her life to helping some of our most needy students," Manhattan Beach Unified School District superintendent Michael Matthews said.

Senator Bernie Sanders posted on Twitter about Casey's death.

"Jane and I are deeply saddened to hear that Vermonter Sandy Casey was among the victims in Vegas," Sanders said.

"Our hearts are with her friends & family."