22-year-old man scales four storeys to rescue toddler dangerously dangling from balcony in Paris
President Macron met Gassama at the Elysee Palace and thanked the 22-year-old personally. Gassama was also given a job at the fire department
A video showing the astonishing moment a man climbed up four storeys to save a young boy who was hanging dangerously from a balcony in Paris took the world by storm last week. On Monday, Mamoudou Gassama, the man who was the first to respond to the cries of the terrified toddler and rush to his aid, has been made an honorary French citizen for his heroic act.
The four-year-old boy was filmed hanging from a balcony outside an apartment on Rue Marx-Dormoy on May 26. The boy was reportedly left alone at the home while his father had gone out shopping.
Gassama fearlessly scaled the building in less than 30 seconds to reach the boy and has become a viral sensation and has since been compared to Marvel superhero Spider-Man.
Le Parisien asked Gassama, who is from Mali, in an interview why he would risk his own life to save the child and he said: "I did it because it's a child."
The 22-year-old was able to grab the child and safely put him down on the balcony of his home after he was encouraged by the growing crowd in the street below.
A concerned neighbor, who can be seen in the video trying desperately to help the child, called the fire crews to come immediately to the 18th arrondissement of the capital city. Although the fire crews were alerted of the incident, it was Gassama's quick thinking that saved the child. The man moved to France only six months ago and currently lives in Montreuil.
One of the witnesses to the incident told Le Parisien: "There is a fence and a gap between them... The neighbor could not afford to lean back to get the child himself."
The toddler only had a torn nail to complain about when it came to injuries from the incident and Gassama himself only sustained a few scratches. An investigation has been initiated to look into the incident.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, praised the brave Malian and posted on Twitter: "Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his brave act that helped save a child's life last night. I had the pleasure to talk with him today by phone, to thank him warmly."
President Macron met Gassama at the Elysee Palace and told him that he would be made a naturalised citizen for his heroic act. He thanked the 22-year-old personally and gave him a medal for courage. Gassama was also given a job with the fire service.
Gassama landed in France last year and had managed to get there by making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa to Italy.
The incident with the toddler took place on May 26 in an apartment located on Rue Marx-Dormoy in the northern part of the capital city.
Gassama saw a lot of people crowding on the street outside a building and that's when he noticed the child dangling from the fourth storey balcony.
He told President Macron: "I just didn't have time to think, I ran across the road to go and save him."
"I just climbed up and thank God, God helped me. The more I climbed the more I had the courage to climb up higher. That's it."
Gassama aslo said that the toddler was crying at the time that he was rescued and put in the balcony where he was safe. He also suffered an injured foot but nothing serious.
When the firefighters reached the scene of the incident, they found that the child had already been rescued.
A spokesperson for the fire department said: "Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child."
The French media quoted the local police as saying that the boy's parents were not inside the residence at the time of the incident.
Judicial sources have said that the father has already been questioned by the authorities on suspicion of leaving the toddler alone. It is also believed that the mother was not in the city at the time of the incident.
Mayor Hidalgo was one of the people who praised the now-French citizen's bravery and mentioned that she had called him and thanked him personally.
She called him the "Spiderman of the 18th" in reference to the district in Paris where the daring rescue took place. She also called him an "example for all citizens".