Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A crumb of comfort from Paris

More than 1,000 people were listening to a rock band at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris on Friday, November 13, when four masked terrorists armed with AK-47s ran inside and began killing 89 concert-goers. The band fled through doors behind the stage, but folks in the balcony had no escape except to jump from windows. One young lady, who wishes not to be identified, tried to escape the carnage by climbing out a upstairs widow and hanging to the ledge by her fingers. She yelled to people below, "Help, I'm pregnant. Catch me if I fall!" But nobody was listening.

                                                                                                                                Photo by Le Monde
Meanwhile, Sebastien had climbed out the next window and was holding on to an air vent. When the woman couldn't hang on any longer, she asked him to help her back inside. After he crawled back into the torrent of gunfire and pulled her in, they were immediately separated. He never knew what happened to her until they were reunited Monday when a friend sent him a message that the woman and her unborn child are "safe and sound" thanks to his brave rescue.

After pulling the woman inside, Sebastien climbed out his window again and clung from the air vent until he felt a gun barrel against his leg. A terrorist ordered him to come inside and lie down on the floor. He said gunmen were telling hostages to phone French TV channels. They wanted to talk to reporters, but they could not get through. "I went from hope to feeling resigned to death," he said. Then an elite French police unit smashed the door and threw in stun grenades.  He said, "A grenade exploded and the blast propelled me under the battering ram. All the police ran over the top. I was trampled, but it was the happiest pain of my life. I was alive." Sebastien explained that at a time of total madness, tiny gestures accomplish great things. He said, "You can hardly imagine how much an outstretched hand, a hand on the shoulder, helped some people."

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