The terrorist attacks on Paris were felt around the world. However, for one man, the attack hit closer to home.
Geraldo Rivera’s daughter Simon Rivera was among the thousands of spectators that had gathered at the national soccer stadium to watch France play an exhibition game against Germany, E! News reports. While watching the event, Rivera and the other fans heard the suicide bombings that took place outside the stadium, which was one of six targeted locations during ISIS’ deadly attacks on Friday that claimed at least 129 lives.
Luckily, Rivera was among those who survived the attack, and was eventually able to call her father to let him know she was okay. During a Fox News broadcast, Geraldo Rivera spoke about his daughter’s experience, his voice breaking with emotion.
“It’s my, my gorgeous daughter,” he said while holding a photo of him and Simone. “It’s, uh, it’s very upsetting.”
“I’m used to being in the action myself,” he continued. “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.”
Thank God daughter Simone is safe. After fleeing soccer stadium she was stranded. A blessed Paris friend drove to area & is taking her home.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 14, 2015
Geraldo, a former U.S. journalist and Fox News personality, said Simone’s cell phone wasn’t working after the attacks, so there was no way for her to contact him. However, her friend’s mother contacted Geraldo and told him the girls were okay. Simone later spoke to her father through Fox News.
“Are you there, sweetheart?” Geraldo asked her while they were still on the air.
“Yes, I’m here,” Simone replied.
“Oh, we’re with Shepard Smith, we’re live and so many people were so worried about you, honey,” he continued.
Simone then went on to describe exactly what she witnessed happening in Paris. She said they heard the explosions shortly before halftime, but no one seemed to be too concerned. It wasn’t until they went to get snacks at the concession stand that they realized something was very wrong.
“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.”
Simone and her friend had no idea what was actually going on outside of the stadium until her friend’s mother contacted them to tell them about the terrorist attacks. They attempted to leave the stadium, but the SWAT team had barricaded them in, and then proceeded to set up a barricade for approximately four hours.
“No one was telling us what to do,” Simone Rivera 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.”
Geraldo then asked his daughter how she was feeling.
“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.”
On Sunday morning, Geraldo shared a photo of him and his daughter reunited in Paris on Twitter.
“Reunited in Paris with my brave darling daughter Simone. So relieved,” he captioned the photo.
Reunited in Paris with my brave darling daughter Simone. So relieved pic.twitter.com/dkcyMKDfjd
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 15, 2015
Since the terrorist attacks, France has closed its borders, and the French president has declared a state of emergency.
[Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]