Somewhere in the endless sea of media coverage of the attacks on Paris, a quote by Fred Rogers surfaced: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
This was true after 9/11 and it's true now—in Paris. Seeing the news, it’s impossible not to notice waves of people helping, often police officers, soldiers and medical professionals putting themselves in harm's way. But there are also extraordinary tales unfolding about ordinary men and women (and a police dog) who not only helped but risked or gave their lives in selfless acts of heroism. Here are four of their stories.
Esla Delplace, A Mother Who Used Her Body As A Human Shield To Save Her 5-Year-Old Son
Esla Delplace, 35, was with her mother and 5-year-old son Louis at the Bataclan Theatre when the gunmen opened fire. She threw herself over Louis, using her body as a human shield. Both Elsa and her mother died while shielding the boy from bullets. Louis was found when the venue was evacuated. He was still under his mother's body, covered in their blood, but physically unscathed.
Sebastian, Who Risked His Life To Save A Pregnant Woman Dangling From A Ledge
Le Monde posted a video (warning: it’s graphic) of people fleeing the Bataclan Theatre. Of note was a man known only as Sebastian who risked his life to hold a woman hanging out of a third-story ledge for several minutes. You'll see Sebastian does not budge, despite the sounds of staccato gunfire all around him. The woman seems to call out in French: “Please, I’m pregnant.”
Sebastian said he escaped the main floor when a gunman was reloading and saw a woman begging people on the street to catch her if she jumped. “I held on for five minutes and then the pregnant woman, who was exhausted, asked me to help her get back inside,” he said. “That’s what I did.” The pregnant woman, who chooses to remain anonymous, and her hero both escaped and have been in touch.
Ludovic “Ludo” Boumbas, Who Died Taking A Bullet For His Friend Chloe
Chloe Clement (right) was among a large group of friends celebrating a birthday at the restaurant La Belle Equipe when gunmen opened fire. The birthday girl and ten of her friends were massacred. Among the dead: Ludo Boumbas, who threw himself between Chloe and a gunman, taking bullets and saving her life.
Diesel, The French Police Dog Who Gave His Life
The Twitter hashtag #JeSuisChien, which translates to “I am dog,” trended after news broke that an attack and sniffer dog named Diesel was shot to death as police entered the apartment where the planner of the Paris attacks was hiding out. Five police offers suffered minor injuries during the raid, and the police tweeted that canines like Diesel are “indispensable” to their missions. #JeSuisChien is a variation on #JeSuisCharlie, used after the Charlie Hebdo attack last January.
There have been thousands of tweets using the #JeSuisChien hashtag, like this one: