At Paris soccer game, goal for Denver man and friends was to score their safety

By on November 18, 2015


For most of Friday, Nov. 13, Kyle H. Boulanger of Denver, a junior at Millersville University, was living the lucky life of a college student studying abroad in Paris.

By day’s end, he was lucky to be alive.

Along with his good friends and fellow MU students, Adam Good of Mohnton, Berks County, and Jordan Johnson of Drexel Hill, Delaware County, Boulanger was enjoying the City of Lights experience.  All three are MU juniors studying abroad at the American Business School in Paris.

Photos courtesy Kyle Boulanger Prior to heading in the soccer game (from left) are Kyle Boulanger, Jordan Johnson, and Adam Good.

Photos courtesy Kyle Boulanger
Prior to heading in the soccer game (from left) are Kyle Boulanger, Jordan Johnson, and Adam Good.

Boulanger, a 2013 Cocalico High School graduate and lacrosse player, and his buddies decided to head out from their residence in the 9th  arrondissement on the city’s Right Bank to the French-German soccer game at Stade de France in the Paris suburbs Friday night.

The popular match was so important it even brought French President Francois Hollande to the stadium.

With the huge boisterous crowds of fans of the neighboring countries, it was indeed a night to remember.  It would soon become a night the trio would never forget.

“We entered the stadium looking forward to an exciting game,” said Boulanger. “After getting to our seats in section X15, row 55 we settled down to watch the game. Approximately 20 minutes into the game, we heard the first explosion and could feel it in our seats.”

Inside the stadium before the game.

Inside the stadium before the game.

Still, it took the trio and many in the stadium some time to understand what was happening, Boulanger said.

“At first we were unsure if it was a part of the sound effects, so we continued to watch the game like normal,” he said. “Then we heard another explosion. When the second explosion went off we were worried this was more than just sound effects, but there was no worry from the crowd so we continued to watch the game.”

Stade de France before the game.

Stade de France before the game.

But shortly after halftime, they and the thousands of others in the crowd began to realize what the explosions really were.

“Our phones started flooding in with texts and social media alerts saying that there had been explosions at the stadium,” said Boulanger. “After a few people in our section began to get up and leave, we knew we should follow.”

Thanks to technology, Boulanger’s and his friends’ parents and families would know almost immediately that their sons were unscathed.  Earlier in the night they had posted their presence at the stadium on Snapchat so everyone knew they were there.

Selfie taken in the stadium (from left) Jordan Johnson, Adam Good, and Kyle Boulanger.

Selfie taken in the stadium (from left) Jordan Johnson, Adam Good, and Kyle Boulanger.

“They had free Wi-Fi at the stadium so I was able to inform my family that I was safe before I left,” he said.

Though the trio were inclined to take mass trasnit home, they thought that might be another terrorist target.

“We made the conscious decision to walk back to our apartment instead of taking the Metro in fear that an attack would occur on the Metro,” Boulanger said. “We walked approximately an hour and 15 minutes back to our apartment unsure of the extent of the attacks or how safe it was to be in the streets.”

Once safely at home, the trio continued to respond to the scores of family and friends fretting about their well being.

They soon began to realize the extent of the half-dozen deadly attacks as they watched news reports.

“After informing our family and friends that we were alright, we looked at the news and saw that there were a number of shootings as well as a hostage situation at the Bataclan,” said Boulanger.

In all, according to a plethora of news sources, three suicide bombers attempted to enter the stadium. All three detonated their explosives outside the stadium between 9:20 and 9:53 p.m. Paris time Friday.

The bombers were killed as was one passerby and several were wounded.

In all, according to CNN, three teams of terrorists staged ISIS-claimed coordinated attacks at six locations throughout Paris late Friday, including a concert hall, the Stade de France and at least two restaurants, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday.

At least 129 people were killed and 352 wounded in the attacks. Ninety-nine of the wounded are reported to be in a very serious condition, as of Tuesday afternoon.

French officials said seven terrorists were killed, one fewer than the number ISIS claimed were involved. A manhunt is on for more suspects.

In the days after the attack, Boulanger said he and his friends see a unnerved but resolute citizenry.

“Tensions are still high and I’m sure people are still a little scared but for the most part people are going about their normal activities just with extra caution,” he said.

He said the trio did not attend the massive memorial ceremony Sunday night at Notre Dame Cathedral.

“We live 45 minutes away from Notre Dame (walking time) and because of everything that has been going on we didn’t want to make the long walk,” he said.

Somewhat amazingly, Boulanger has not heard anyone in Paris comparing the attacks there to the 9-11 attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania in 2001.

He and his friends are determined to stay in Paris until the end of their semester abroad in December.

“My parents are fine with me staying in Paris as long as things don’t get worse,” said Boulanger.

Their university has been in touch with its students in Paris, Boulanger said.

Janet Kacskos, MU director of communications, said the school’s director of global affairs, Dr. Timothy Shea, sent e-mails to the seven students studying at the American  Business School in Paris almost immediately upon hearing of the attacks.  All seven students are Pennsylvania residents, she said.

“We heard from five of the seven (including Boulanger and his friends) almost immediately,” said Kacskos.  “It was an hour or so till we heard from the other two so we were a bit concerned.”

She said the students are all expected to remain in Paris till mid December when the semester ends.  Shea is monitoring the situation in Paris as well as other points in Europe and abroad where students are spending their fall semesters.  He is also in touch understandbly with the parents and guardians of the students, Kacskos said.

In her decade at MU, Kacskos said this is the first time terrorism has struck so close to members of the student body.

“Some years ago we had students in an area struck by an earthquake,” she said.  “That was scary, but nothing like this.”

The trio will continue to go to class and do their best to enjoy their studies and the city.

“It hasn’t really changed anything; we just keep an eye on the news and make sure we watch our surroundings when we’re out,” Boulanger said.

Still, for the 20-year-old, the attacks have made the world not just a more dangerous place, but a more confusing one as well.

“We do not understand how people can have so much hate in them to commit these acts of violence,” he said.


One Comment

  1. Aiden

    August 22, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for the post

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