The deadly attacks in Paris on Friday hit close to home for veteran U.S. journalist and Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera.
His 21-year-old daughter, Simone Rivera, one of his five children, was among the thousand of spectators at the national soccer stadium, close to where suicide bombers blew themselves up outside while France played an exhibition game against Germany, and was unharmed. The three attackers were killed.
The stadium was one of six locations targeted on Friday in attacks that killed at least 129 people. The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility.
Geraldo, 72, got emotional while appearing on Fox News and speaking about his daughter’s experience and also became tearful in a later broadcast, while talking to her over the phone. She had attended the soccer match with her best friend and two other people. French President François Hollande was also among the spectators.
“It’s my, my gorgeous daughter,” he said, his voice wavering, while holding a photograph of himself with Simone. “It’s, uh, it’s very upsetting.”
“I’m used to being in the action myself,” he added. “I can’t, I can’t, it’s a lot easier to report these things and to experience them myself than if it is your child. She just turned 21 years old, she’s a straight A student, she’s a wonderful, wonderful person and a very gentle soul and we’re obviously very concerned.”
Geraldo said Simone’s cellphone was not working and that her friend’s mother phoned him and told him the girls were OK. Simone later spoke via phone to her father during a Fox News.
“Are you there, sweetheart?” he asked her on the air.
“Yes, I’m here,” she replied.
“Oh, we’re with Shepard Smith, we’re live and so many people were so worried about you, honey,” he said.
She then described what she saw.
“Before halftime, we all heard a very loud kind of explosion sound but no one seems to make any, like seem worried about it or anything except for the fellow New Yorkers by my side but we just brushed it off as nothing,” she said. “And then at halftime, we went to get food and…they wouldn’t let anyone leave the stadium at that point and they weren’t telling us anything and they just had a bunch of ambulances and people in uniform starting to look very nervous.”
“Then we heard two more explosive sounds. But again, no one expressed any concern,” she said.
Simone said her friend’s mother kept calling her at the stadium and was the one who informed them that terrorist attacks were taking place across Paris. The group then tried to leave the stadium and saw SWAT teams barricading people.
The game was stopped. Scores of people flooded the field. Authorities later installed a blockade around the stadium for about four hours, Simone added.
AP Photo/Michel Euler
“No one was telling us what to do,” she said. “They were just herding us like sheep and we were all freaking out and then there was one point where we started to break away and there’s this swarm of people running at us and we just all start running in this direction, not knowing where to go and then all the police officers were there with their guns ready.”
“Tell us how you’re feeling, honey, how are you feeling right now?” Geraldo asked her.
“I’m shaking still,” she said. “We don’t speak French. All the police officers couldn’t help us…we were all just freaking out.”
She said she and her friends considered walking home, which would have taken more than four hours. The subway was closed after the attacks and many people in the city were too scared to take taxis. The group tried to get a room at a nearby hotel.
“They had locked their doors and wouldn’t let anyone in,” she said. “We just asked if we could stay in the lobby and they said no and then they locked the door.”
A “blessed Paris friend” of her father ended up picking up the stranded group.
“Do you want to come home, honey?” Geraldo asked Simone on the air.
“Thank you, I want to come home,” she said.
The French president has declared a national state of emergency, the first since World War II, while France’s borders have been shut.
Source: E Online