Birmingham man recounts Paris terrorist attacks

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham freelance photographer Stephen DeVries was on a business trip in Paris, shooting for Adidas. As a thank you, he and several other media attended the big soccer matchup between France and Germany on Friday night.

Everything seemed normal until 20 minutes into the game when he heard a big explosion, followed by two more.

“I didn’t think much of it,” he explained, “No one in the audience really reacted so everyone just sort of continued watching the game and cheering. The game kept going so we sort of assumed it was a firework or cannon and went on with the game. We had no idea.”

That is, until Stephen’s cell phone started buzzing with text messages, asking if he was okay.

“One of my buddies who used to live in France texted right back – you haven’t heard? There’s bombs going off all around the stadium,” he said.

That’s when he realized something was wrong.

After the match, Stephen was in touch with his liaison in Paris, who told him to stay in the stadium. Meanwhile, fans had started to leave the Stade de France.

“All of a sudden, everyone was screaming and flooding back into he stadium,” he explained, “that was probably the scariest part because you’re getting all these texts from people saying bombings and shootings.”

About an hour later, Stephen returned to his hotel and noticed the streets of Paris were different.

“There were riot police everywhere. Roads were blocked off. There were police cars everywhere,” he said, “but aside from that, pretty much silence everywhere. Everyone was just walking in silence.”

That quiet continued with Stephen on his flight home on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s kind of like a surreal dream or something, like a bad dream,” he explained, “it doesn’t feel like something that happens to you in real life.”

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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