Sarasota man recalls near-miss in Nice

- A twist of fate led Alan Tannenbaum to Nice, and then a stop for dinner may have saved his life.

"I wasn't supposed to be in Nice," he explained.  "That was a mistake."

After spending a week visiting his son in Turkey, the Sarasota attorney flew to France.  He booked his flight to the wrong airport and ended in Nice.  Since his resort was four and a half hours away, he decided to stick around for the Bastille Day celebrations.

"I missed, probably for the first time in my life, July 4th fireworks.  So I thought, 'This is very convenient. I missed the American fireworks; I can watch the French fireworks in Nice,'" he continued.

Tannenbaum got a map and plotted his night, which included fireworks at the beach. On the way, he stopped to eat at a French cafe.

"There were mostly families. People were happy. It was a day off for them so no one was working that day.  It was joyous, carefree," he said.

He didn't get to the beach in time for the fireworks, but could still see them.  As they stopped, the night turned.

"It turned to horror in an instant....people were walking fast, and then they were running. People were screaming," said Tannenbaum.

Panic set in.

"Some women came from off the beach, one woman was very emotional; one was fainting. Of course they are saying everything in French and I have very little French skills, so I had no idea what they were doing, but obviously something had happened," he continued.

A waiter told Tannenbaum a truck drove through the crowd.  Afraid of what would happen next, those at the cafe took shelter in the basement.

"There was a lot of confusion about where to go to safety," he said.

Tannenbaum went back to his hotel where he learned the news.  The next morning he flew home.  

He was still shaken, but not enough to stop traveling.

"We can't change our way of life," he added.  "We lose if that happens."

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