NICE, France -- A truck that careened through a crowd and killed upwards of 80 people in Nice, France on Thursday only narrowly missed a Georgia Tech student there.
Economics Student James Walker said the truck seemingly came out of nowhere. He and his friends were facing the water just after the Bastille Day fireworks show, and the truck zoomed past them, behind them. The truck's mirror struck Walker in the head just moments before the truck plowed into the crowds about a hundred feet away from him.
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Videos show the truck driving down a pedestrian promenade on the Nice waterfront. You then see the truck accelerate and, behind the trees, it rams into the crowds.
Walker and his friends were almost in the truck's path.
"The mirror of the truck came up and hit me on the head," he said. "I mean, I'm not hurt at all but that's pretty much how close I was to it."
Walker said it took a moment to realize what was happening as the truck zoomed past him.
"The truck is running really fast and just plows through and hits a bunch of people," he said. "And we were kind of in shock for a minute."
Then comes the gunfire as the truck driver stopped.
"Police definitely started shooting at him and we heard gunshots," Walker said. "And then we just started running."
Georgia Tech engineering student Brendan Phillips said crowds were running fast from the scene.
"The entire crowd of people was running toward us," Phillips said. "So my first thought was we're going to get stampeded by people. But we turned around, ran in the same direction."
He spoke with 11Alive from a friend's apartment because he wasn't able to get back to his hotel room.
"There's still sirens of ambulances going right now," he said. "So I've been told to stay inside and stay put."
"I'm just really lucky I'm OK" and the others next to him are okay, Walker said, still processing what happened and how close he and his friends came to being among the casualties.
Both Walker and Phillips said they think twice about being in crowds but they will not be intimidated.
"And I think in a very stubborn American sense, if you don't go out to something that's a big festival, that's the aim of terrorism," Phillips said. "So not going out would be the wrong thing to do. It shouldn't scare us from doing things that we want to do."
Walker said 17 Georgia Tech student were in his group at the Bastille Day celebrations.
Walker and Phillips are completing their studies in France and both are scheduled to return to Atlanta by the end of the month.
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