'I remember seeing bodies flying everywhere' - Galway barman describes Nice massacre
Published 17/07/2016 | 14:05
A young Irishman said he was deeply upset by the horror he witnessed as a hate-filled lorry driver cut down scores of victims on the promenade in Nice.
Philip Ezergailis (23), who grew up in Moycullen, Co Galway, had just finished his degree studies in Ireland and was working in Ma Nolan's Irish pub near the seafront in the French city.
"I was with a group of friends on the promenade where we had watched the fireworks," said the Irishman.
The truck appeared and was mowing down crowds of adults and children as the driver drove the vehicle through the crowd, he said.
"I remember seeing bodies flying everywhere. It was terrible. Then a lad passed us on a motorbike following the truck," he said.
He said he and his friends took refuge on the beach beside the prom.
"There were girls running screaming down to the water," he said.
When he emerged back onto the promenade, he was deeply shocked by what he saw.
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"I looked down on the ground in front of me and I saw what I thought were four dead bodies. But then I realised it was just one person," he said.
He and some of his friends eventually managed to get back to Ma Nolan's pub which was turned into a makeshift sanctuary for men, women and child fleeing the devastation.
Philip's work colleague Andrew Fitzpatrick (31) from Adare, Co Limerick, was working in the bar and said the doors of the pub were locked for the safety of those inside. But anyone who asked to be admitted was brought inside.
"There were a few Irish in the pub along with a lot of French and Spanish people who were frightened. There were schoolchildren brought into the pub as young as seven or eight years old," said Andrew.
The pub is jointly owned by Irishman Teddy Nolan and a French business partner. The business partner, Christophe, made a speech inside the pub asking people to remain calm.
"The police and the army came into the pub. They eventually advised people they could leave in small groups," said Andrew.
"The people were escorted out in groups of 10," he said.
Several staff came into work the next day but left after a while because of their distress, he added.