Long Beach resident Rachel Gunther, who was among the survivors of Friday's attacks in Paris that left at least 129— including 23-year-old Cal State Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez—dead, described her experiences in a lengthy Facebook post over the weekend.
Gunther, who works as the founder/creative director at DanceFit Direct and at 24 Hour Fitness in Long Beach and attended UC Irvine, was also interviewed by KABC in Paris for another segment.
“What started out as a beautiful evening of dinner with my adopted son in lovely Paris, followed by a soccer match in Stade de France, almost ended as a nightmare,” Gunther wrote in a Facebook post. “Not realizing that the two loud booms we heard during the game were actually two human bombs outside the stadium, we calmly made our way to the exit only to be pushed back by thousands of people screaming and running in fear back into the stadium.”
In fact, a suicide bomber had attempted to enter the stadium, but guards found a hidden explosive vest on him, according to the New York Times. The first bomber, identified as a Syrian man, 25, detonated his vest shortly after he was turned away, killing himself and a bystander. The other two blew themselves up at different locations surrounding the stadium. They were confirmed to be a part of one of the three groups that coordinated Friday’s attacks.
Gunther said she and her son waited for hours, stranded inside the stadium.
“No trains, no busses, no taxis,” Gunther wrote. “People were walking around in shock, like zombies. Not knowing what to do. As news of the other killings and hostage taking made the rounds, people finally started exiting the stadium.”
After walking around for miles, Gunther said she and her son found a taxi man who had ventured into the scene of the attacks to pick up anxious and panicked people, transporting them to their hotel.
From her hotel room on Saturday, Gunther wrote that she found herself occasionally bursting into tears, mourning the victims.
“I will never forget how hopeless and terrified I felt running with the others trying to escape what was coming for us,” wrote Gunther. “I thank God, my savior, for giving me another day. And I pray for the brave souls who were struck down tonight by evil.”
Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) President Jane Close Conoley, students, friends and family mourned the loss of CSULB student Nohemi Gonzalez in a vigil on Sunday. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
Above, right: Photo courtesy of Rachel Gunther's Facebook page.