Thursday 18 July 2019

Young Irish survivor hailed as a hero after Paris theatre massacre

Katie Healy and David Nolan, who survived the Bataclan attack
Katie Healy and David Nolan, who survived the Bataclan attack

Ralph Riegel and Laura Larkin

The young Irishman who survived the terrorist massacre in Paris cheated death for the second time in four years.

David Nolan from Kilcorney, Millstreet, Co Cork, has been hailed as a hero for the remarkable courage he displayed in trying to protect his girlfriend in the Bataclan Theatre in which almost 90 people lost their lives.

The 32-year-old remains in a serious but stable condition in a Paris hospital after being shot at point blank range with a Kalashnikov assault rifle as he was enjoying the rock concert with girlfriend Katie Healy.

Just four years ago, David was climbing a glacier in New Zealand when a massive rockfall took place.

He was uninjured in the incident but the footage he shot with his phone went on to make TV news bulletins in New Zealand and Australia.

During Friday's massacre, he suffered severe trauma to his leg from the impact of a high-velocity bullet.

David has now been hailed as a hero for helping to protect Katie, who is originally from Blackrock, Co Louth, as terrorists stormed the theatre.

He threw himself on top of Katie twice, covering her head and chest as best as he could

It is understood he was injured at the very beginning of the Bataclan attack - resulting in the loss of a lot of blood before he was rushed to a Paris hospital.

He underwent emergency surgery in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Katie said when people attempted to run towards the exits, the gunman began shooting indiscriminately at the crowd.

They decided to lie on the ground and "just play dead."

Miraculously, they managed to get out onto the street when a door was opened, and made their way towards a nearby apartment.

David is well-known in the north Cork community for his deep love of sport and music.

Neighbours have rallied to support the Nolan family.

A keen football player with Millstreet, David is a lifelong fan of Cork City FC.

He is understood to have attended the recent FAI Cup final where his beloved Cork were beaten 1-0 by Dundalk.

The young man is also a keen Munster and Ireland rugby fan.

"They are a lovely family and hugely respected in Millstreet," said one neighbour.

"I know David has a few brothers and everyone here is now praying for his safe recovery. From what we have heard he was certainly one of the lucky ones."

Another source said that the pair have been left deeply traumatised by the ordeal.

"They've had a horrendous, horrendous experience. It's been dreadful.

"They just went to Paris for the weekend and this was the outcome.

"We're very thankful that they're alive. He lay on top of her… he saved her life."

Mr Nolan's family were notified on Saturday that he had been injured and relatives flew to Paris to attend his hospital bedside.

It is believed that the pair only attended the Bataclan concert as "an eleventh-hour decision" during their city break.

Irish Independent

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