As a new arrival in France with somewhat sketchy paperwork, Mamoudou Gassama might have been forgiven for keeping a low profile in case he was deported.
But when the 22-year-old from Mali saw a young boy clinging on for life from a block of flats in Paris, he did not hesitate to swing into action.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Malian ‘Spiderman’:
1. In an extraordinary rescue captured on film, he rapidly climbed four floors relying on his strength, agility and a head for heights before hauling the four-year-old to safety.
2. His courage has earned Mr Gassama hero status in France – where he has been dubbed ‘Le Spider-Man’ – and the honour of French citizenship.
3. During a one-on-one meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday, he was told his ‘exceptional act’ will be rewarded with papers to legalise his status and a job as a fireman if he wants it.
4. Video footage of the rescue, taken on Saturday night, showed a crowd screaming at the foot of the building as the small child dangles from the fourth floor in Paris’s northern 18th district.
Watch 22 year old Mamoudou Gassama heroically scaling four stories of a building when he sees a toddler about to fall to a certain death. When he began climbing the neighbors did not have ahold of the child’s arm yet. pic.twitter.com/67EsUmzwFN
— Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) May 28, 2018
5. A man in a neighbouring balcony tries to pull the child to safety but cannot because of a dividing wall between the flats. Mr Gassama, who was crossing the street, runs forward and, with a combination of determination and muscle, hauls himself up one balcony to the next. Within 30 seconds he climbs each floor and pulls the crying child to safety as crowds urge him on below. Firemen arrived at the scene to find the boy had already been saved.
6. After the footage went viral on social media, Mr Gassama, who has been living illegally in France since last September with no official access to jobs and public services, was invited to the presidential Elysee Palace. Far from being deported, Mr Macron told him ‘bravo’ and awarded him a police medal for ‘courage and devotion’.
7. Mr Gassama, casually dressed in blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which happened as he was on his way out and heard car horns honking and people shouting. He said he acted ‘without thinking’, telling Mr Macron: ‘I ran. I crossed the street to save him. When I started to climb, it gave me the courage to keep climbing. ‘God helped me too. Thank God I saved him.’ He said he was ‘trembling’ after he pulled the child to safety.
8. Mr Gassama had papers to live in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean after a tough stay in Libya. However, he wanted to join his older brother who has lived in France for decades.
9. Mr Macron is toughening France’s immigration approach and stressed not all who make the treacherous journey to Europe can be welcomed. But he said Mr Gassama’s actions were admirable and an ‘example to millions’, telling him: ‘Because this is an exceptional act…we are obviously, today, going to regularise all your papers and if you wish we will start nationalisation procedures. ‘You saved a child. Without you, no one knows what would have become of him. You need courage and the capability to do that.’
10. French media reported that the father of the child was detained for parental neglect. It is understood the mother was away from Paris.
© Daily Mail