Akyra Murray, 18, was with two friends at the Pulse nightclub when the shooting began around 2 a.m. Sunday.
"I'm just hurt. A feeling of emptiness knowing that my daughter is not coming home with us is just the saddest part," said her mother, Natalie.
The vacation was a supposed to be a celebration of life for the Murray family: a celebration of Akyra's graduation from West Catholic High School and her full basketball scholarship to Mercyhurst University.
"I just keep seeing her face," said her father, Albert.
Akyra, her cousin Tiara Parker, and friend Patience Carter begged the Murrays to go to the club Saturday night. The club allowed teens to enter.
"The night it happened, I didn't really want her to go and she just kept begging me, 'dad take me,' and I said 'she's on vacation,'" said Albert Murray.
Her parents dropped them off and then, at 2 a.m., got text messages reading "Please come get us now," and "Please, they shooting."
They jumped in the car and frantically drove the 30 minutes to Pulse.
Then they got the call.
"I received a phone call from my daughter saying 'Mom, I've been shot in the arm, help me please, I'm scared, I am bleeding so bad. Please help me, call the cops, please help me," Natalie Murray said. "I guess at that point she was in the bathroom, and the assailant guy was in there with them."
At the scene it was chaos.
Those who were with Akyra say she stayed on the phone with police, trying to direct them to their whereabouts. They were held hostage in a bathroom stall by the gunman.
The Murrays were outside... so close, but yet so far. They wouldn't learn of Akyra's death for 36 hours.
They still don't know how she died. The loss is still unbelievable.
"Have to keep it positive and know my daughter died for a good cause, saving her cousins and friend, and knowing she was happy up until the end, until the day she stopped breathing," said her mother.
Parker is Akyra's cousin, and was hiding in a bathroom stall with the Murray and Carter. She was also wounded, but has been released from the hospital.
"We just ran into the big stall and dove on the other people," said Tiara Parker. "There was people piled on top of each other."
Somehow the door got pushed closed and the wounded hostages held it shut.
"The door didn't have a latch," Parker recalled, "But there was this guy on the door and holding the door."
The gunman, Omar Mateen, would stay in the bathroom for several hours, making calls to 911 calls, pledging allegiance to ISIS.
Shortly before police broke through a wall Mateen fired again, hitting three other people.
"The cops blow down the front of the bathroom and he goes into a shootout with them, and I am getting burned by the bullets ricocheting off me. I have burn marks and a scratch down my back," Parker said.
A bank account has been set up with Citizens Bank to help the family with funeral expenses. You can write a check payable to the Akyra Murray Fund, or go to any Citizens Bank to make a deposit.