Survivor story

Man who saved pregnant woman during Paris attacks recounts hostage situation

Screen shot of a woman dangling from a window of the Bataclan concert her during the Paris attacks. (New York Times)

“It’s the nightmare we all had as kids. That nightmare where you’re being chased by a bad guy or a monster, and you can’t run fast enough. Well, this time it was reality.” So begins a harrowing interview with a man named Sebastian, who survived an attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris last week that broke out during a rock concert. Footage shows the band striking their first notes before gunshots are heard. The video stops and Sebastian’s story starts.

He learned there was an emergency exit on the left side of the stage and ran in that direction but ended up stuck upstairs, at a dead end with two windows. There Sebastien perched, looking down at the scene below where some lay still and others ran away from the hall, a few even dragging the bodies of wounded or dead with them. At the other window, an unnamed pregnant woman hung from the windowsill, begging those escaping below to catch her.

The event, captured on video and shared with the New York Times in their interview with Sebastian, shows the woman hanging by one hand. “Sir! Sir! Sir! Sir! I’m pregnant,” she said. “Please, I’m slipping. I’m pregnant.” Sebastian is seen climbing back inside and reaching his hand out to save her. The video then zooms to bodies in the street below and footage of a man hobbling away from the exit door, likely shot in the leg or foot.

After saving the pregnant woman’s life, Sebastian was taken hostage by gunmen inside of the hall for two hours. According to the witness, the gunmen said they were “representing ISIS,” there to avenge the Syrian bombings and “show us Westerners what the airstrikes are like over there. They told us this was only the beginning,” he said. According to Sebastian, the gunmen asked if the hostages agreed with them — “I’ll let you imagine the silence that followed that question” — and gave him a big wad of bills, asking if he valued money. “Of course not he answered,” before he was asked to burn the bills.

“We realized that [the gunmen] wanted to save their own lives,” Sebastian said. “We got lucky when they decided to save their own lives by taking us hostage. They realized that life is valuable. But it was too late.”

Hear Sebastian’s story at The New York Times.

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