Elsa Delplace was inside Paris’s Bataclan theater when ISIS-linked militants stormed in, shooting and killing concertgoers at random.
So the 35-year-old threw herself over her 5-year-old son, sheltering him from the hail of bullets and ultimately sacrificing her own life.
Delplace’s final act is one of the many stories of heroism emerging from Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, including several from inside the theater where most of the killing took place.
Five-year-old Louis Delplace was attending the concert with his mother and grandmother, 61-year-old Patricia San Martin. Both women ended up being killed while they protected the boy’s life.
Elsa Delplace & Patricia San Martin, Mother & GrandMother :: Shielded Louis By Taking All The Bullets On Themselves pic.twitter.com/aJcyY1KcEu
— #Ajit Doval (@Ajit_Doval) November 18, 2015
Elsa’s friend Sihem Souid shared her story with Le Point magazine (which was translated by the Independent).
“Elsa Delplace and her mother Patricia died on Friday under a hail of bullets inside the Bataclan.
“Her son Louis, her ray of sunshine, was with her. Louis was found in Vincennes hospital, distraught and covered in his mother’s blood as she tried to protect him from the bullets.
“Elsa was a joyous person who always had a smile on her lips, even at difficult times. She was involved in the voluntary, cultural and artistic worlds. She played the cello brilliantly.
“She always fought against injustice. I think it was part of her family – her Chilean mother fled the dictatorship of Pinochet.”
Elsa Delplace was not the only person to lay down her life for others during the terrorist attack in Paris. While she was shielding her son from bullets on the concert floor, many concertgoers tied to escape to the building’s second floor.
One of those was a pregnant woman who ended up hanging for her life from a window ledge more than 30 feet off the ground. Her plight was captured in a video taken by journalist Daniel Psenney, who watched from his window across the street from the concert hall.
“A woman was clinging to the Bataclan window on the second floor. I thought about the images of September 11th,” Psenny told Le Monde.
The video did not show the fate of the woman, leading many to assume she had been killed when the terrorists then made their way to those same second floor windows. But new reports have found that she is alive and owes her life to a heroic stranger who pulled her back to safety.
The man, identified only as Sebastien, risked his life as the gunmen moved in on them and pulled the woman back into the window, where she was able to survive the ordeal.
The woman’s friend, Frans Torreele, told the Telegraph the woman and her unborn child are safe and resting. Torreele had tweeted a message on Sunday night looking for the man who saved the pregnant woman, and after being retweeted thousands of times, it reached Sebastien’s brother.
Sebastien revealed that within five minutes of pulling the woman to safety, he was confronted by one of the gunmen.
“The terrorists said to us: ‘Do you hear the cries, the suffering? It’s to make you feel the fear that people have to suffer every day in Syria. It’s war! And it’s only the beginning. We’ll massacre innocents. We want you to repeat that to those around you’,” he told La Province.
Sebastien said he closed his eyes during the ordeal and felt “resigned to death,” noting that the terrorists placed hostages at the front door to avoid being stormed by police. But French special forces were able to shoot the terrorists without hitting the hostages, leading to a frantic escape.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) November 15, 2015
“Then they smashed the door in with a battering ram and threw a stun grenade. When I saw a second stun grenade land near my feet, I knew it was time to flee,” he said. “I ran, the grenade exploded and the blast propelled me under the battering ram. All the Raid members went over the top. I was trampled but it was the happiest pain of my life. I was protected. I was alive.”
In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, many are holding up stories of Elsa Delplace and Sebastien as signs of the true heroism in the face of evil.
[Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images]