A young immigrant, Mamoudou Gassama, has been hailed as a hero after climbing up to a fourth-floor balcony to save a four-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony.
Gassama, a Malian immigrant, took just seconds to reach the child in a rescue captured on film and viewed millions of times on social networks, Guardian UK reports.
NAIJ.com gathered that the incident took place at about 8pm on Saturday, May 26, in northern Paris.
Footage of the rescue shows the 22-year-old Gassama pulling himself up the building’s storeys from balcony to balcony as a man on the fourth floor tries to hold on to the child by leaning across from a neighbouring balcony.
On reaching the fourth floor, Gassama puts one leg over the balcony before reaching out with his right arm and grabbed the child.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman said.
Interviewed by reporters 24 hours after the rescue, Gassama said he had acted without thinking.
He said: “I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child.”
“I felt afraid when I saved the child ... [when] we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down,” he added.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, praised Gassama on Twitter for his “act of bravery” as well as phoning him personally to “thank him warmly”.
She referred to him as the “Spider-Man of the 18th”, referring to the Paris district where the rescue happened.
“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here,” she said.
“I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added.
NAIJ.com learns that the young man has been honoured for his brave rescue by French president Emmanuel Macron who invited him to the Elysée Palace on Monday, May 28.
Macron reportedly said Gassama will be made a French citizen and will also be offered a place in the fire brigade.
"All the (Gassama's) documents will be put in order," Macron told the sporty 22-year-old who has become a national hero, referring to his immigration status.
Macron reportedly gave Gassama a medal for bravery.
"I was not thinking of anything. I went straight up", Gassama, who wore jeans and a short-sleeved patterned shirt, told Macron, recounting the episode.
"Bravo," Macron replied.
"I'm pleased because it's the first time I've received a trophy like that," Gassama, who arrived in France in September 2017 and lives in a hostel for immigrants, said after receiving his medal.
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According to initial inquiries by the authorities, the child’s parents were not at home at the time.
A judicial source reportedly said the father was later held for questioning by police for having left his child unattended and was due in court later. The child’s mother was not in Paris at the time.
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