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‘I was ready to die,’ says French motorcyclist who tried to stop Nice attacker

France 24 screengrab

A French motorcyclist who tried to stop the deadly truck rampage in Nice last Thursday has given an interview, dispelling reports that he had been killed in the attack.

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Video of a motorcyclist risking his life in a bid to prevent a giant truck’s murderous rampage has been played and replayed since last Thursday’s attack.

The grainy amateur footage shows a man speeding along a massive white truck as it hurtles down Nice’s seafront promenade.

Pulling alongside as the truck starts to slow, the man grabs hold of the cab of the vehicle before tumbling out of sight.

The man in the video was reported to have fallen under the wheels of the truck or assumed to have been shot by the attacker.

But in an interview with regional daily Nice-Matin published on Thursday, Franck, a local airport worker in his late 40s, is revealed to be alive and well, suffering only minor injuries, including a broken rib, a hurt  fist and bruises on his back.

Franck told the paper that he had been “ready to die” to stop the truck’s driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who killed 84 people in the Bastille Day attack.

“We wanted to go see the fireworks, but we left too late. So I told my wife ‘it’s not a big deal, let’s go eat some ice cream’… Everything was going fine. We passed people starting to go home,” Franck told Nice Matin.

As he and his wife went to get ice cream on his scooter, the couple heard a commotion erupt behind them.

"We heard screams and cars reversing. My wife said 'stop, something is not right'. We saw the crowd running in all directions, as if they were fleeing something. That is when we saw the truck coming," Franck said.

"He overtook me, driving on the pavement. I can still see the bodies flying everywhere. I immediately understood. I decided to accelerate. My wife pulled my arm and asked me where I was going. I stopped, told her ‘get off’, and accelerated as fast as I could."

Franck, who is in his forties, said he was "in a trance, but lucid" as he raced after the truck, which was zigzagging between the road and the sidewalk, mowing down people in its path.

When he caught up with Bouhlel, Franck said he decided to launch his scooter at the vehicle, fell and then ran after the truck.

"I didn't know what I was doing, I managed to hang on to the door," he said.

‘I was ready to die’

The driver's window was open and Franck, who was standing on the step, said he used it to pull himself into the truck, where he found himself face-to-face with Bouhlel.

"I hit him again and again. I used my left hand with all my force, even though I’m right-handed. I punched him in the face. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t flinch,” Franck said.

“He had a handgun. But the pistol didn’t work. I had the impression that he was trying to manipulate or load it, I don’t know. He pointed it at me, pulled the trigger, but it didn’t work.

“I was ready to die actually! I was lucid and ready to die to stop him. And I continued hitting him… He ended up hitting me on the head with the butt of his gun… and then I fell off the step before getting back up immediately!”

Franck was not the only one to try and stop the carnage that night. A cyclist named Alexandre Migues also at one point caught onto the handle of the door, only letting go after finding himself staring down the barrel of the attacker’s gun.

Although Migues was disappointed that he and Franck were unable to stop Bouhlel, he said videos of the incident showed the pair had succeeded in slowing down the truck.

Bouhlel drove two kilometres down the Promenade des Anglais before he was killed by police in a gun battle.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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