PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Elianna Paljug, 19, graduated from Fox Chapel High School last year and just finished her freshman year at The Georgia Institute of Technology. A bio-engineering major, she’s spending the summer studying in France.
She was on the Nice waterfront Thursday night watching the Bastille Day fireworks. As she began to walk home, everything changed.
A truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades drove onto a sidewalk for more than a mile, plowing through Bastille Day revelers. At least 80 people were killed before police killed the driver.
“Everyone just started running, we had no idea what was happening,” she said. “We had left the road and everyone was running every direction, it was terrifying, my friend just grabbed my hand and we just sprinted.”
Thousands of people began running without direction or explaination.
“It was really scary, I was checking my phone, checking the news, but no one knew,” Paljug said.
In various languages they heard the words “gunfire” and “truck.” But it wasn’t until they got back to one of the host homes they discovered the magnitude of the event.
“I had friends that were right next to it. My host family’s daughter was right there. They saw the truck coming into the crowd of people and it just drove over them and it was awful and no one knew what was happening. Still people don’t understand what’s going, on why it happened.”
In the chaos, it took quite a while to make sure all her friends were safe and then she called home to reassure her parents. Friday, even as the investigatoin was underway, she said the resilency of the French people is on display.
“Today it’s a gorgeous day, it’s nice it’s on the Riviera, it’s beautiful and the sun is shining and people are out and people are still determined to go to the beach and still enjoy their summer. The city is waking up and people are shaken, but not letting the terror overtake them,” she said.