Derry and Strabane Councillor, Shauna Cusack, said she is “still in shock” after she was caught up in the terror attack in the French city of Nice on Thursday.
Up until Wednesday evening, Colr. Cusack and husband Brendan were staying in hotel only yards away from where 84 people were killed when an armed man drove a lorry into a crowd of people.
Colr. Cusack and her husband were due to return home to Ireland on Thursday morning but were forced to stay an extra day when their flight was cancelled.
“The hotel we spent the vast majority of our trip was only 30 yards away from where all those poor people were killed,” said Colr. Cusack.
“We were due to come home on Thursday morning but when our flight was cancelled we were told we were going to have to spend another day in Nice. We were delighted because it meant we would get to experience the carnival atmosphere of Bastille Day. The hotel we had been staying in was fully booked so we were re-located to another hotel two miles away.”
The terrorist responsible for the attack has been identified by French security forces as 31 year-old Tunisian-French man, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
Bouhlel was born in Tunisia but also held French citizenship; he was not on any terror watch list.
“As our hotel was only yards away from where the attack took place, we had spent a lot of time there during the week.
“When we moved hotels we had intended to go back to that area but there were fireworks taking place near our new hotel so we stayed where we were - thank God we didn’t go back because God knows what might have happened.”
Colr. Cusack added: “When we were leaving Nice this morning [Friday] I couldn’t help but feel emotional. It’s an amazing city with amazing people. I still can’t believe what happened to all those people - I am still in shock.”
Colr. Cusack and her husband caught and early Friday morning flight from Nice Airport to Stansted Airport but a few hours after landing they heard news that Nice Airport had been evacuated by French armed forces.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard it - I said to my husband ‘we were just there’.”
Colr. Cusack and her husband are due back in Derry on Friday night.