Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian immigrant currently residing in France, has been hailed as a hero following the unbelievable rescue of a young boy dangling from a fourth-story apartment porch in Paris on Sunday.
A video shows 24-year-old Gassama scaling the building while the boy dangled desperately from the balcony as concerned passerby watched from below. The video went viral almost immediately, reaching French president Emmanuel Macron, who offered the Malian immigrant a French citizenship for his heroic actions. Macron also rewarded Gassama with French nationality and a job as a firefighter.
According to reports by The Times, Gassama was an illegal immigrant who arrived in France in September last year and, following his heroics, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo promised to assist him in obtaining a visa.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gassama Scaled the Building in 30 Seconds and Pulled the Child to Safety, Thanking God for the Courage to Do So
Gassama’s daring rescue has earned him a superhero nickname of “Spider-Man” after he effortlessly climbed up the building, jumping from balcony to balcony as the child desperately clung to the porch by his fingertips.
By the time Parisian emergency services arrived at the building, he had already pulled the child to safety. He managed to reach the child in just over 30 seconds, and, with the help of the neighbor, the two men were able to haul the child back over the railing.
“I like children,” Gassama told CNN International. “I would have hated to see him getting hurt in front of me.”
“I ran and looked for solutions to save him, and thank God I scaled the building to that balcony,” Gassama said during his interview. “When I started to climb, it gave me the courage to keep climbing.”
Gassama and the boy were both treated for shock, but neither of them sustained any injuries.
2. Gassama Met with French President Emmanuel Macron After the Daring Rescue, Earning Him a French Citizenship and a Superhero Nickname
President Emmanuel Macron invited Gassama to the Élysée Palace on Monday, where he was given a certificate and a gold medal for performing an act of courage and dedication, according to CNN.
Gassama told Macron: “I didn’t think about it, I climbed up and God helped me.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on her official Twitter on Sunday that she had called Gassama to thank him, congratulating the Malian migrant on his act of bravery.
“He explained to me that he arrived from Mali a few months ago with the dream of making a life for himself here. I replied that his heroic act 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 posted to Twitter.
Speaking to CNN-affiliate BFM TV after the rescue, Gassama said he had been in the neighborhood to watch the Champions League final at a local restaurant when he saw the commotion.
3. Gassama Says He Acted on Instinct when He Saw the Child Dangling from the Rail; He and the Boy were Shaken After the Incident but Otherwise Generally Unharmed
After pulling the child to safety, Gassama told BFMTV that he was shaken, but grateful for the strength to rescue him. After the adrenaline wore off when he reached the apartment, he said he became scared and started shaking, as would anybody who just climbed four stories to save a life.
“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.”
Gassama also says that he only acted on instinct when he saw the toddler dangling from the raililng.
“I saw all these people shouting and cars sounding their horns,” he told BMFTV. “I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child.”
Macron asked Gassama how the child was when he was rescued. He replied: “He was crying because he was hurt.”
4. Gassama Left his Native Mali in West Africa to Live with His Brothers and Several Cousins in “Squalid Migrant Lodgings” East of Paris
According to The Telegraph, Gassama, 22, left his native Mali in West Africa as a teenager in 2013, according to Le Monde.
“He crossed the Sahara desert through Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya and then traversed the Mediterranean to Italy in 2014 at his second attempt,” the Telegraph reports. “His first bid failed when he was intercepted at sea by police.”
He told Macron that he had traveled to France because his brother had been living in France for many years. According to Le Figaro, he has been living in squalid migrant lodgings in Montreuil, east of Paris, with three brothers and several cousins.
5. The Boy has Been Placed with Social Services and his Father is Being Investigated for Abandoning his Parental Responsibilities
Speaking to French news channel BFMTV Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, revealed:
The father left the flat just as the incident was unfolding. He went shopping and then decided to play Pokemon Go in the street which took a little time before he returned home.
The father is very upset because he realises what he did and what could have happened.
The boy’s father, who had left him on his own in their flat to go shopping and play Pokemon Go, was arrested shortly after, according to The Mirror. The child was placed in the care of social services.
The family of the child have expressed heartfelt thanks to the Malian migrant who saved him, according to the Telegraph. According to the Telegraph, the young boy had only been in Paris a few weeks before the incident. According to the Telegraph, he has just left Réunion, the French Indian Ocean island, to join his father in Paris. His mother and sibling were due to meet them in France shortly after.
The boy had already fallen a few floors before somehow managing to grab hold of the fourth-floor balcony, as he is said to have pointed upwards when a resident in the neighboring fourth-floor flat asked where he came from, according to the Telegraph.
According to his mother, the boy’s father had little experience looking after him on his own and that this was not the first time he had left him alone.
Speaking of Gassama’s heroic act, she said: “If I were to meet him, I think I would say what everyone is saying: ‘thank you, thank you!’ At any rate, I wouldn’t have been able to go one better than the president. He has been recompensed for his act.”
The father faces charges of failing in one’s legal duty as a parent, punishable by a maximum two years in prison and a fine of €30,000 (£26,000).