«It was a cool night. The atmosphere was very nice, the fireworks stunning, and kids were throwing stones in the water. The Promenade was full of people. Like every year on the 14th of July. I had chosen to spend the night on the pedestrian part of the Promenade. At the end of the show, we all stood up. Heading to the stairs, all squeezed like sardines. I zigzaged between the crowd to reach my scooter, parked nearby.
Far away, a noise. Some people shouting. My first thought was: someone just wanted to make a little fire work but did not manage to. It was not that. A few seconds afterwards, an enormous white truck drove into the crowd celebrating France national day.
This truck was only a few meters away from me and I did not realise it. I saw bodies flying like bowling balls as soon as the bus passed by. I heard noises and shouts that I will never forget. I was petrified. I could not move. There was panic all around me. People were running, shouting and crying. Then, I realised: I started to run with them. Heading toward the Le Cocodile restaurant, where everyone had just sheltered.
I stayed there only a few minutes, which seemed an eternity. “Don’t stay there”, “Find a shelter “Where is my son?”, “Where are my children?”. These are only a few words that I heard around me.
This truck was only a few meters away from me and I did not realise it. I saw bodies flying like bowling balls as soon as the bus passed by. I heard noises and shouts that I will never forget. I was petrified. I could not move. There was panic all around me. People were running, shouting and crying. Then, I realised. And I started to run with them
I absolutely wanted to know what had happened. So I went out. The Promenade was deserted. No noises. No alarms. No cars. Then I came back where the truck had passed. I met Raymond, a man in his fifties, who was crying and whispered to me: “ There are deads everywhere”.
He was right. Just behind him, on the road, there were bodies every 5 meters. Blood everywhere. People whining. The owners of the bathing establishments were the first to be there and help. They brought water for the injured and towels, to put them where there was no more hope left. That is when I lacked my strength. I was still petrified. A second wave of panic brought me to the Cocodile.
“The track is coming back!” “It is comes back!”. It was not true. The killing track was stopped a few meters further, riddled with bullets.
I didn’t hear any gunshots. Only people shouting and crying. I dashed away. I took my scooter to go the furthest possible from this hell. I went back to the Promenade again and became aware of the entity of the tragedy. Wounded people were scattered on the pavements. The first ambulances were starting to arrive.
This was an horror night»
This is an article by Damien Allemand published on Nice Matin on the 14th of July.
Translation by Cristina Barbetta
Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images