Times Associate Editor
It was a phone call no parent wants to receive. At 2 p.m., while on his way to a funeral last week, a local businessman received a chilling phone call from his son seconds after he fled the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, where a Jihadist gunmen continued to indiscriminately massacre concertgoers on Nov. 13.
The well-known family, who asked to remain anonymous for the safety of their son, were left numb when their son called to say he was safey and describe the scene.
The born-and-raised Strathmore native ended up in Paris when the flight he was piloting was rerouted from another destination to the French capital. With time to spare on his layover, he decided to attend a concert by American rock band Eagle of Death Metal concert.
Yet, the fun-filled night soon turned sinister, when the sounds the crowd of 1,500 fans thought were fireworks turned out to be gunshots. The former Strathmore resident, who does not live in Canada currently, described to his father that he hit the ground when the person standing next to him was fatally shot. Stacked on top of one another, a chance happenstance where the gunmen turned their attention away for a moment allowed the pilot to flee the concert hall, running several blocks to safety with only one thought on his mind – his family.
"He was quite overcome at the time and said they were just shooting people," his father said. "He had considered just playing dead like everyone else, but that wasn't stopping them. They were just indiscriminately shooting at people and he said as he was running to the door, he was expecting to feel a bullet in his back. He said, he truly thought in his mind, 'this was it, that that was the end.'"
The Bataclan Concert Hall was one of several locations, including the Stade de France football stadium and a number of cafes and bars, in Paris that fell victim to the frightening attacks. While the Strathmore survivor was among those fortunate enough to escape unscathed, 89 concertgoers at the hall perished that night. Since then numerous locations in France have been dedicated to mourn the losses of loved ones totalling 129 deaths and 349 injured as a result of the attacks.
"You never think those types of things touch us here in little old Strathmore," the father said. "I don't want to ever, ever, come this close to losing a child again. It was a little too close."
While the family has since seen images and videos of the events in Paris, they said their son is also reliving the events over in his mind and is dealing with the post trauma. The family said their son's hardest struggle at the moment is facing the odds of having survived the attack. While the family continues to be in contact with their son, who has returned to his home, they are also aware of the many families that are dealing with a different outcome.
"We just thank God he's alive and he is one of the few that were fortunate enough to escape something this horrific," the father said. "One thing that is heavy on our hearts, is that there are people that are less fortunate at this point and our thoughts are with them. We want the people that have lost loved ones in that horrific situation to know that we are with them as well. Our prayers are with them."