Terrorist Victim Krentzman Returns Home To Culver
March 16, 2017
It was a beautiful evening in Nice, France, last July 14 with 30,000 peoplewatching the fireworks celebrating Bastille Day, the French national holiday. Suddenly and without warning, a terrorist drove a 19-ton cargo truck through police barriers into the pedestrian zone of La Promenade des Anglais, mowing down dozens of spectators. Culver City resident Greg Krentzman, his wife Sophie and their nine-year-old daughter Lola, who attends Linwood E. Howe Elementary School, were in the path of the speeding truck. Krentzman told his story to me recently as we sat on the patio at Jackson Market. He was clearly happy to be home and alive. The family was having a fun evening watching the fireworks show when his wife, who was originally from France, spotted the speeding truck and yelled at her husband who was busy taking pictures: "Greg look out. There's a truck coming."Sophie and Lola jumped to the left and, in a split second, Kretzman had to make a decision to jump left or right. He jumped to the left but his leg and foot were shattered by the front of the truck. "I knew immediately it was a terrorist attack," he said. "I could see the outline of the attacker behind the wheel and he was swerving the truck to the left and right trying to hit as many people as possible. "There was carnage everywhere," he added, referring to the mangled bodies and the pools of blood that dotted the famous street.
While his wife Sophie suffered some scrapes, Lola had a broken ankle. "I was bleeding profusely and in a state of shock," Krentzman said. "My wife saved my life, pure and simple."The carnage was staggering: Eighty-six people died and 434 were injured. French Police later shot and killed the terrorist who drove the truck. Sophie's sister and brother-in-law came to talk to him while Sophie took Lola off for medical treatment. Several ambulances drove by and stopped; however they drove off to treat the more critically injured. Suddenly Mark Phillips, a local Frenchman and volunteer firefighter, pulled up in his car and picked him up to take him to the hospital. Phillips had also picked up a 20-year-old Russian woman who was severely injured but she later died at the hospital. Krentzman was in surgery for five hours. He suffered 12 fractures from his right knee to his toes and required a skin graft on his foot and blood transfusions due to the loss of blood. For a time he was afraid he would lose his right leg. He spent the next two months in the hospital followed by two months in a rehabilitation center. After that he rested for the next 2 ½ months in the apartment he and his wife had just purchased several blocks from the carnage. He expresses gratitude to the French doctors and people who supported him during his long recovery. "The outpouring was and is amazing and I feel honored and grateful," he said. He was visited by Secretary of State John Kerry and the United States Ambassador to France along with other dignitaries. When asked if his family will go back to Nice, he likened it to falling off a horse and getting right back on. "Yes we will go back every summer,"Arriving back in the United States, he was met by two FBI agents who escorted him through the airport so he didn't have to go through customs. A homeowner in Carlson Park, Krentzman and his family are currently staying with his mother in Beverly Hills. His father had passed away several weeks before they left for France. Their daughter has returned to school at Linwood E. Howe.
Krentzman has been honored by both the Culver City and Beverly Hills Councils. In parting, I asked him if he had any reflections to share. With no earth-shattering revelations he mentioned that he wanted to get back to his life, looking for a new career opportunity in sales and business development in the non-profit sector. Then he stopped and said, "I've learned to appreciate the smaller things in life.'With that, we walked down the sidewalk to Jackson Avenue. But Krentzman was still limping -- the reminder of the terrorist attack in Nice.