Stranger saved Adelaide's life in Nice - 'Please don't leave'

Six weeks on, Adelaide Stratton remembers fear, pain, and blood rushing down her face.

She remembers screams. And panic. And blood. So much blood.

But mostly she remembers clinging to a stranger's hand, and it squeezing hers back.

She remembers a gentle, calming voice in a language she doesn't know saying words she didn't understand. And it's attached to a body shielding her from corpses she didn't know surrounded her, but her saviour knew he didn't want her to see.

She begged him not to leave her alone on Bastille Day in Nice, amid the devastation caused by a madman terrorist in a truck which almost killed her.

Attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Photo / AP
Attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Photo / AP


Adelaide, 22, knows she's one of the lucky ones. And the vibrant Sydneysider, despite a catalogue of injuries that almost killed her and will be with her for a lifetime, also knows she has one person to thank for it: humble Frenchman Patrick Sergent.

The pair's story as 85 people lay dying around her in the wake of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel murderous death drive is told in a touching story on Sunday Night tonight.

Former Channel Seven presenter and journalist Chris Bath delivered it at the request of Adelaide's family - close friends of Bath's.

But it's a story which is Adelaide's alone, told with flashes of humour and spirit, despite the legacy of pain that comes with the crushed base of her head which should have killed or paralysed her, the vivid scar which crosses her forehead, internal cranial injuries, and the ferocious burn from being dragged by the truck which mars half of her right leg.

Adelaide was holidaying with three friends, and had been celebrating Bastille Day at a pool party days after arriving in Nice when news of the fireworks lured them towards the promenade on July 16.

The four became separated - Chiara Ronzel and Bridget De Jong on foot - and Adelaide and Bridget's boyfriend, Marcus Anderson, opting for the bus.

Young Australian Adelaide Stratton was caught up in the Nice attack.
Young Australian Adelaide Stratton was caught up in the Nice attack.


They disembarked, unknowingly, into hell.

The truck hit both of them as the terrorist carved his deadly path.

"I heard nothing. I remember where I was ... we were walking along and then ... nothing," Adelaide tells Bath.

Marcus looked up to see his friend facedown, motionless.

"I didn't know if she was alive or dead," he says. And he couldn't get to her. He tried, but collapsed, complete with busted ribs and a punctured lung.

Ten metres away, Adelaide woke to find someone holding her hand.

"I just couldn't leave her, and she didn't want me to go away," Patrick, who speaks no English, tells Bath via a translator.

"The truck missed us and I went to see if I could help people maybe still alive."

"She gripped my hand strongly I was both sad and happy to see someone was alive."

She didn't know his name, just his face, and saw "his long hair coming over" as he asked in French could she hear him, and tried to stop the blood.

"And I always had his face to look at. I didn't have to look at anything else around me," she says.

As Patrick blocked the bodies around her from her view, police shot Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel dead 70m away.

Then they stopped ambulances coming in for an hour, fearful of accomplices and bombs.

Patrick refused to leave her side. She clung to his hand in the ambulance, saying "please don't leave".

He stayed. He won't answer directly answer the question of if he saved her. He just says: "what's for sure is she didn't want to release my hand and neither did I".

Sunday Night chronicles Adelaide's journey through dizzying pain, the arrival of her boyfriend, Matt from Australia, and then her mother Chantelle, in Nice, defying doctors orders and her own battle with Multiple Sclerosis to be with her daughter.

In and out of consciousness in hospital, Adelaide initially thought she'd tripped over "because I'm a massive klutz".

Reality intruded when she came to enough to hear the screams of pain from those around her.

Somewhere along the line, the French president visited. She was so wired she just babbled at him. He looked her in the eye and said "This is not France".

She didn't know who her saviour was when he came to visit.

"He said 'it's me, Patrick', and I said 'sorry, I don't know you'. Then he grabbed his heart and it clicked."

They communicated by gestures: "I think our looks conveyed it. Words were of no use ... we were just connected."

Adelaide's and her family's journey is far from over.

Chantelle had to leave France, just as Adelaide did, in a wheelchair because her MS flared.

Typically, despite her worsening condition, Chantelle says "it was pretty comical really:".

Boyfriend Matt, filmed a video diary in hospital, marking off a checklist of recovery: milestones like cleaning teeth, eating, walking.

At one stage, her head swathed in bandages, face injuries shielded with sunglasses, and clearly under the influence of strong painkillers, Adelaide looking comically ridiculous asks Matt has he seen much of the hospital. She observes: "I've only seen the ceiling."

And she has no words to thank Patrick.

"How do you thank someone," she says "who saved your life?"

She finds them by making a terrorist's story her story.

"My story isn't about him or what he did," Adelaide tells Bath.

Video


"It's about Patrick and how people helped. My story is about love and helping others and the beautiful things that can come from the terrible.

"It isn't about him at all."

- news.com.au

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