Stéphane Erbs, a father living in Nord-Isère, testified on Friday at the Nice attack trial. He lost his wife, Rachel, on July 14, 2016 on the Promenade des Anglais. In the courtroom, he retraced every minute of that evening.
It was the day he had been waiting for for over six years. Stéphane Erbs lost his wife, Rachel, on July 14, 2016 on the Promenade des Anglais. He testified Friday, September 30 during the trial of the Nice attack in the hope of “leave lighter”.
Accompanied by his daughter, also a survivor, he described his physical and moral injuries, his life after. “Unfortunately, there is still a lot of hate. We need to get it out. We need to get everything we have kept inside out”explains the father of the family before crossing the doors of the courthouse.
Stéphane Erbs testified for 50 minutes. At the bar, he asked for the projection of a slide show of photos of his wife. “The message that I would like us to remember is that we must enjoy happiness as long as we have it, as long as we can feel it”, he says. On the last shot, Rachel appears smiling alongside her son. It was July 14, 2016, a few hours before the fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais.
That very morning, the Erbs family, based in Cessieu, in the North-Isère, booked a last-minute holiday in Corsica. While waiting for the next day’s boat crossing, the couple lived a carefree evening in Nice alongside their two children, then aged 7 and 12.
“The restaurant menu, the price of the bill, the flavor of the ice creams… This whole evening was imprinted. All the details are present, allinsists Stéphane Erbs. It’s infinitesimal compared to what’s going through our heads and which is constantly spinning.”
In the courtroom, Stéphane retraces every minute of this evening. The chaos, the bodies, the wounded evacuated to all the hospitals in the city. Rachel is then nowhere to be found. For a few moments as he watched her get rammed, a mad hope is born in him.
When I got home, I said to myself that I was going to have to raise my two children on my own. I was thinking about my son’s wedding, my daughter’s wedding later.Stephane Erbs
at France 3 Rhône-Alpes
“It’s the hope of despair. We tell ourselves that if there is one chance in a billion, we must seize it. And finally, the verdict came down through a DNA test. We compare the DNA of the sister of Rachel has the DNA of a body that matches It’s a chopper that falls Match, so the body here is hershe recalls. It is Rachel’s fate like the fate of over 80 other victims who died on the Prom.”
The precise but never cold tone, moving but never tearful. Stéphane Erbs captivated the audience by talking mainly about life. “I said that life was not beautiful. At that time, when I returned home, I said to myself that I was going to have to raise my two children on my own. I was thinking about the marriage of my son , to my daughter’s wedding later. Every milestone. The Christmases that would go by without her.”
This extraordinary trial, under close surveillance, Stéphane attends it almost every day and responds daily to the press as co-president of the victims’ association Promenade des anges. He is now known to the media for his calm side. However, at the very end of his testimony in court, he broke down for once. His bag of hate was too heavy.
“I came to say what I feel, to let go of my voice, my mind and my body. Reading these sentences, I felt a black anger risinghe describes. I was tense at the desk. I could have broken it. It was just the naturalness coming out. It’s not in the most hearable way but it came out. It was in me. It was that beast inside that was talking.”
Stéphane is now waiting for December 15, the last day of the trial. Seven men and a woman, aged 27 to 48, are tried before the special assize court in Paris. The perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian, was killed by the police on the evening of the attack. On July 14, 2016, driving a 19-tonne truck, he drove into the crowd, killing 86 and injuring more than 450.
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Trial of the Nice attack: “Unfortunately, there is still a lot of hatred”, the painful testimony of Stéphane Erbs whose wife died on July 14, 2016
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