Paris attacks: British survivor Mark Blackwell seeks woman who helped him escape Bataclan gunmen

'I don’t know who she was, I want to find her and say thank you'

Alexandra Sims
Tuesday 17 November 2015 12:56
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Fifty year-old Mr Backwell was hit by bullets in his left shoulder and above his left wrist
Fifty year-old Mr Backwell was hit by bullets in his left shoulder and above his left wrist

A British doctor is desperately trying to find a woman who helped him flee gunmen who stormed the Bataclan theatre in which 89 people were slaughtered during Friday’s Paris attacks.

Mark Backwell, a hospital worker in London, says he wants to trace the woman - who he knows only as Katie - and “say thank you” after she held his wounds when he sought refuge from the siege in a nearby shop.

The 50-year-old was hit by bullets in his left shoulder and above his left wrist when he crawled through fallen bodies to escape the attack, which erupted while he watched an Eagles of Death Metal gig with friends.

A memorial close to the Bataclan concert hall, where more than 80 people lost their lives Getty

He told The Sun: “I heard a sound like firecrackers… followed by piercing female screams. The band stopped playing in their tracks.

“Everyone around me was dropping to the ground. I went down on the floor with them. As I was going down, it occurred to me it was gunfire.”

Mr Backwell, a consultant at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, said he crawled to an exit around15ft away from the stage, while a gunman fired into the crowd from an upstair's balcony.

“The shooting went on for an eternity,” he said. “It was very rapid – crack, crack, crack, crack. Had I been further back, I’d have been dead.”

Despite being shot twice, Mr Backwell suffered only flesh wounds and was able to scramble to the exit, sheltering in the shop where he remained hidden for two hours.

He said “I was bleeding heavily. A woman called Katie who I had never met before was holding my wounds closed. I want to find her and say thank you.”

A woman is evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris Reuters

A handful of Britons are thought to remain in a critical condition in hospital following the attack in the music venue, the most deadly in the string of attacks on Friday.

Nick Alexander, 36, from Colchester, Essex, who was selling merchandise for the band is the one confirmed British death from the incident.

129 people died in the attacks, which consisted of seven co-ordinated shootings and explosions across the French capital.

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