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Relieved to be home after terror attack

Relieved students who were in France at the time of the Nice terror attack have returned home to Bermuda and declared: “It could have been us.”

Giovanni Hollis, Corrie Cross, Shane Krueger and Yusef Bushara are happily reunited with their families after being only a matter of miles away from the Bastille Day horror which left 84 people dead.

One mother, Gillian Cross, spoke of her dread as the news unfolded when she received photographs from her daughter, 17-year-old Corrie, enjoying a fireworks display.

Warwick Academy student Corrie was actually in the neighbouring city of Cannes when the attack took place — but Gillian was unaware of her location.

Gillian told The Royal Gazette: “Corrie was sending us pictures of the fireworks when we were watching the news on the TV and we found out after the fact that she was elsewhere.

“She posted pictures of the fireworks just five minutes after I saw it on the BBC news and I panicked. I started calling her; she wasn't answering. Her daddy texted her and eventually she responded and we knew she was safe. Nice is the next town from Cannes so they were close by. It was a scary.”

The students were visiting France as part of an exchange trip sponsored by l'Alliance Française des Bermudes.

They all made a safe return to L.F. Wade International Airport last Wednesday, when their relieved parents awaited them.

They had been in Nice just days before July 14, when a terrorist ploughed a truck into the crowd, and were later held in lockdown in Cannes's Lycée Carnot school for three days following the attack to ensure their safety.

Corrie told this newspaper: “We watched the fireworks display and everything was great but I got home and my dad messaged me to ask if I was OK.

“I was confused as to why then he told me what had happened.

“I was really shocked and disappointed. It was scary because at least two days before I had been on the same boulevard as the attack happened so it could have been us — it was so surreal.

“We had to stay in the school, and that was not the best experience, but I got to stay with my host family at the weekend. I didn't feel like I was too constrained. I felt that right after an attack would be safest because people would be on high alert but I'm very happy to be home.”

Giovanni, 14, said he never really felt in danger as he too was in Cannes when the attack happened, but described the atmosphere in the country as “intimidating”.

“We were in Nice a few days before but I was out and about in Cannes at the time of the attack watching fireworks and then got home and saw the news. I felt intimidated by the way the country went into a state of emergency and there were guards walking around with actual guns and stuff.

“The school went on lockdown for two days and on Sunday I stayed in my host family's house all day.

“They were disappointed and sad and shocked. The teachers were supportive. We felt free to ask questions and the host family were really helpful.”

Kelly Exell was waiting for her son Shane at the airport, telling us: “I had been communicating with Shane via the internet when the attack was happening — we pieced together the times and I realised he was in Cannes. His family chose to celebrate in Cannes but they had been there three days earlier walking up and down the Promenade des Anglaise. He was fine; the school did a lot to protect them and kept them in the school campus. I'm very excited to see him.”

In shock: France has been stunned again as a large white truck killed many people after it mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice. (AP Photo)

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Published August 02, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 02, 2016 at 7:28 am)

Relieved to be home after terror attack

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