A Mali immigrant is being hailed as the “Spider-Man” of Paris after incredible footage revealed he barehandedly climbed a building facade to one of the upper floors in order to save a 4-year-old boy dangling from a balcony, reports The Guardian.
The amazing rescue shows 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama scaling the building facade in under 40 seconds to reach the fifth-floor balcony from where the young child is seen hanging.
The video captures Gassama as he pulls himself up from balcony to balcony with nothing but his bare hands until he reaches the fifth floor and pulls the boy up to safety. While Gassama makes his way up the building facade, another man from the neighboring apartment is seen leaning across the balcony in an attempt to get a hold of the child.
A firefighter crew called to the scene arrived to find that the 4-year-old boy had already been rescued.
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman said in a statement.
Interviewed by French journalists on the following day, Gassama had a very humble reaction and told BFM TV how he got involved in the whole incident.
“I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child.”
Footage of the brave rescue immediately went viral on social media, notes Buzzfeed. The very first video to emerge racked up 5 million views on Facebook in less than 24 hours and is currently at 8 million.
A similar video posted on Twitter on May 27 is captioned “Heroes don’t wear capes.”
Although he is acclaimed as a hero, Gassama told the French press that he acted without thinking and confessed that he was scared and even started trembling after the boy was safely back inside the apartment.
“I felt afraid when I saved the child… [when] we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down.”
Euronews reports that Gassama, who is an illegal immigrant and has only been in Paris for four months, was commended by French President Emmanuel Macron this morning following an invitation to the Elysee Palace. After the meeting, Macron announced that Gassama is set to receive French nationality and be integrated into the fire service.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, dubbed Gassama the “Spider-Man of the 18th,” referring to the 18th district where the incident took place, and praised the young man on social media.
“He explained to me that he arrived from Mali a few months ago while dreaming of building his life here,” Hidalgo tweeted.
“I replied that his heroic gesture is an example for all citizens and that the City of Paris will obviously be keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added.
The boy’s parents, however, have been less fortunate after the incident with their son. An initial inquiry by the French authorities established that the 4-year-old had been left unattended.
Although the boy’s father claimed he only went out to do some shopping and that he left the balcony door closed, Buzzfeed notes that he was placed into custody and is due to appear in court. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother was reportedly not in Paris during the incident.