On July 14 a 19 ton refrigeration truck plowed through a crowd gathered in Nice, France to watch fireworks as part of Bastille Day celebrations. Eighty-four people died and more than 200 others were injured in the rampage. French officials identified 31 year old Mohamed LaHouaiej Bouhlel as the driver. He died in a gunfight with police.
Greg Krentzman, who lives in Culver City, was injured in the attack. He was visiting Nice with his wife, Sophie, and his 9-year-old daughter, Lola. “We watched the fireworks show and then walked over to get some candy for my daughter. I was walking back with the two of them and taking some pictures, because a lot of the buildings were done in red white and blue for Bastille Day,” said Krentzman, who spoke to KCRW from his hospital bed in Nice.
The celebrations turned deadly when a truck began to cut a deadly path through the crowd. “My wife was about seven to eight feet in front of me. She screamed out ‘Greg, jump there’s a car going right towards you,'” said Kretnzman.
When he looked up, he saw a truck 15 feet in front of him and then looked at his wife and daughter who were ahead of him, but mostly out of harm’s way. He tried to get out of the truck’s way, “unfortunately my leg was clipped. The corner of the fender hit my leg and cut my leg open. I just kind of crawled to a bench that was along the side of the street for protection.”
His daughter was also injured. She was riding a scooter which ricocheted from the truck’s wheel. “My wife picked her up and took her over to the museum where they were keeping people to keep them safe because we heard there were gunshots too,” he said.
Krentzman lay underneath a bench, with his wife, brother-in-law and sister-in-law nearby. They held his hand and “just reminded me to breathe and keep my eyes open, because I was losing a lot of blood and I was really cold. My teeth were chattering.”
Around him, death and destruction. Krentzman said first responders were handling the worst cases first. That’s when a good Samaritan pulled up alongside him in a car and asked him to get in, “He was an elderly French man and my brother-in-law picked me up, put me in the backseat of his car and he wanted to take me to the hospital. So that’s what he did. It was unbelievable. This guy was just a random person and he was going close to 100 miles an hour trying to get me to this very good hospital and he also saved my life.”
Krentzman still has no idea who the man was, but he knows had it not been for that intervention he would have died. “I’d love to get him and thank him personally I’m hoping that through the hospital we can maybe get a drivers plate or maybe they have a photo of who this guy was so I’m hoping to find him.”
Greg Krentzman is still in Nice, France recovering from his injuries and spoke to KCRW’s Chery Glaser from his hospital bed for this story.