“I Survived A Terrorist Attack”: One STELLAR Reader Recalls Her Terrifying Night At The Bataclan Theatre
Katie Healy, 28, from Louth, and fiance David Nolan, 33, from Cork, were at The Eagles of Death Metal's show at Paris' Bataclan Theatre.
“David had bought tickets to Paris for my birthday, he had a whole romantic weekend planned, he was actually bringing me to propose, though I didn’t know at the time. He likes Eagles of Death Metal, and he’d found out they were playing the day we got to Paris, it was a last minute thing, so we said we’d do it.
“I actually felt weirdly nervous about it beforehand. We didn’t have much time before the gig – we’d landed at 2:30pm, the gig was at 7 or 8pm, so we had food outside Bataclan, sat there people watching and it was calm and relaxed. It’s a lovely spot, a nice part of Paris.
“When we got inside, it was one of the chillest crowds I’ve ever seen. I love music, I’ve been to hundreds of gigs, and it was just normal and good fun. We were standing near the back by the merchandise stand, with the bar behind us and the doors about six feet away.
“The band had just played a Duran Duran cover when I heard shouting, and felt something hit me, and as I turned to David, I saw flashes. Other people were shouting that it was pyrotechnics or firecrackers but I knew it was gunfire – there’s a smell. There was gunfire, I was facing it and I was thinking, ‘this is it.’
“The shooters were reloading their guns, and the crowd had fallen to the floor. The man in front of me had been shot – his blood had was what’d hit me – and he was dead. They reloaded again, screaming why they were doing it. I don’t remember them saying anything about allahu akbar, but they did say that Francois Allende was to blame. I knew it was ISIS, I said to David, ‘this is Charlie Hebdo two’, I knew it was them immediately.
“When they reloaded again, we got up and ran, got nowhere, fell again, there was constant shooting and people were dropping dead everywhere. We fell, the man beside me was choking on his own blood. The woman beside me – it was unrecognisable she’d been a person.
“One of the shooters was behind me and I could hear footsteps… bang…. footsteps… bang… it was going to be our turn. I said, “David, I love you… goodbye.” There was a bang, but the bullet went into the guy who died and the shooter walked past us. David dragged me up and we ran.
“Around 10 people who’d been hiding ran with us, a door had opened to the street, and there were steps down, littered with bodies. My shoes had been blown off my feet but they were tied to my ankles and they were scooping up blood and entrails as I ran.
David was really lagging, and that’s when I realised he’d been shot
“David was really lagging, and that’s when I realised he’d been shot. I’d no bag, no phone, David’s phone couldn’t get a signal, and I had to get him to hospital.
“Finally a girl at an apartment block let us in. Around seven or eight of us got inside, took a lift to highest floor, and just lay on the floor. David was white, his blood was everywhere. We were banging on doors, a guy came out and got a doctor who lived at the end of the hall, and he helped us. The doctor was trying to get an ambulance, but couldn’t. Finally he said, ‘Paris is at war tonight, I’ll take you myself’. I had to wait in a separate area at the hospital, and as I watched all the ambulances arrive, the gravity of what was happening sank in. So many were dying and it wasn’t the time to be feeling sorry for ourselves.
“David’s foot was blown open and the bone pulverised. He was in hospital in Paris for two or three days – I honestly can’t remember when we got home, but he couldn’t fly with an open wound. Finally, they covered it, and we were able to get a flight.
“Now, he’s had five surgeries and skin grafts. He’s only starting to walk nine months on. It’s been a really hard, quick adjustment. He was into soccer, really active, so his whole life has changed. He’s thrilled to be alive and that his foot’s intact, but he’s a chartered surveyor, which is an outdoor job, so it’s affected every aspect of his life. We had to move out of our apartment because it wasn’t wheelchair accessible, and he had to change his car too. It’s been really hard on him, he’s been in constant pain but he’s determined to get back to normal, though he’ll always have a limp.
“I thought when we got home, everything would be okay. But it’s not and there aren’t a lot of supports. Of course we’re very happy that we’re alive, but it’s tough, and people don’t know what to say to you. No one wants to talk about it, and people tell me I need to stop talking about it, but I don’t want to bottle it up, I have to get it out.
“I’m much much stronger now, whereas I was very sensitive before. Very early on I said, we can’t have our lives destroyed by this, and we’ll get over any minor speedbumps. So on bad days, we say to each other, ‘what’ll we do today to get on with things’. You have to try to get past it.”
This article featured appeared in STELLAR’s September issue. Our November issue is on shelves now!
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