Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year old Malian migrant, living in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, is being called a real-life Spider-Man after heroically climbing up the side of a building to save a falling child. Gassama managed to scale four floors in under a minute, just in time to rescue the suspended little boy, who was left unsupervised by his father. Once he reached the balcony, he lunged his leg over it to gain stability and swiftly grabbed and lifted the four-year-old to safety.
The incident took place on Saturday, May 28th around 8 pm on Rue Marx-Dormoy, near the 18th arrondissement, in Northern Paris. Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the dramatic rescue had already transpired and were thankful. “Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman said, according to The Guardian.
Gassama moved from his homeland of Mali to France in September 2017, undocumented, in hopes of starting afresh. “He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here,” reveals Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who had called him in appreciation following the event. “I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added on Twitter.
Hidalgo’s prediction came true as Gassama was invited to meet with French President, Emmanuel Macron, the subsequent Monday. The head of state met with Gassama at the Élysée Palace and presented him with a certificate of courage and dedication signed by Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech, as well the promise of becoming a French citizen. “All the (Gassama’s) documents will be put in order,” said the President.
The meeting was recorded live and broadcasted on Macron’s Facebook page, which was watched by thousands. “I was not thinking of anything. I went straight up”, Gassama told Macron, recounting the day. “I’m pleased because it’s the first time I’ve received a trophy like that,” he revealed with pride as he accepted the medal of bravery. Macron also offered the young man a position in the fire brigade to help him establish himself in his new home.
The young boy’s father, 36, was brought to court on Sunday, May 27th, for prosecution. As stated by French prosecutor, Francois Molins, according to Le Parisien, the child had been left alone at the apartment after the father had gone to the store. “He went shopping and then decided to play Pokemon Go in the street which took a little time before he returned home,” explains Molins. “The father is very upset because he realizes what he did and what could have happened.” If charged with the offense of “removing a parent from his legal obligations,” the boy’s father could face up to 2 years in prison accompanied by a fine of 30,000 euros. The boy has been placed in a reception facility in the meantime, says Le Parisien.
A video of the remarkable feat has been circulating through the Internet since it occurred and has generated much praise for Gassama, who says he was just focussed on helping the little one. “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,” he said. “I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child.”