A woman from Medicine Hat, Alta. was taking in the fireworks in Nice, France while on vacation Thursday when she had a frightening premonition.
“With that many people on the beach, I said, ‘you know what? It would just take somebody with the fireworks to start shooting or running into crowds…”
Donna Wood shared the thought with her boyfriend, with whom she was travelling. He thought she was crazy.
“This is it,” Wood recalled. “You could just feel it in the air that something was going to happen.”
Moments later, all hell broke loose.
“Hundreds of people coming around the corner, just screaming in terror.
“I said to Glen, ‘we need to run.’ My background as a nurse and a paramedic… I said, ‘we need to run and we need to run into a building.'”
“There were shoes, people were hurt in the streets,” Wood said. “Old people, and then there was a mother – it breaks my heart – with an empty stroller who was saying, ‘I can’t find my son! I can’t find my son!'”
“It was just panic,” Wood said, “hearing the gunshots.”
The pair eventually made it back to their hotel.
“It was a war zone; food on the table, glasses on the floor, an empty stroller. People grabbed their child and they ran. They ran.”
Authorities now say a Tunisian man living in France drove a large truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day along Nice’s beachfront, killing at least 84 people, many of them children. More than 200 people were injured; 25 remain on life support and another 52 are in critical condition.
The slaughter ended only after police killed the armed attacker in a hail of bullets.
Wood and her boyfriend went back to the scene of the rampage Friday.
She said several blocks of the scene were barricaded off by white sheeting and patrolled by police officers.
“We got to see where the truck was and the memorial…There was a mother lighting a candle for one of her children.”
Neither Wood nor her boyfriend were injured. They are both instructors at Medicine Hat College in Alberta.