Nice attack trial: the Borla family relives their nightmare at the helm

On July 14, 2016, the Borla family lost Laura, aged 13 and a half, during the attack on the Promenade des Anglais which caused the death of 86 people in Nice. This Wednesday, September 21, part of his family came to testify before the special assize court to tell what they experienced as a nightmare.

It is a broken family that presented itself this Wednesday, September 21 before the court at the Palais de Justice in Paris during the trial of the Nice attack. Seriously, four members of the Borla family testified in turn to talk about Laura, who died the evening of the attack when she was only 13, soon to be 14.

On the evening of July 14, 2016, the two parents, Marie-Claude and Jacques Borla, decided to bring their 13-year-old daughters, the twins Audrey and Laura, to the fireworks display on the Promenade des Anglais. Their big brother Nicolas is staying at home because he has just had his wisdom teeth operated on and the eldest of the family Lucie is in the hinterland for a dinner with her in-laws.

Jacques tells the bar that he was tired that evening but he let himself be convinced to come in front of the excitement of his daughters and his wife who wanted to go to the fireworks with a friend of the girls and her parents. .

Before telling what happened after the end of the fireworks, Marie-Claude takes a deep breath, closing her eyes, as if to give herself strength, not to flinch. The group begins to walk on the Promenade, on the sidewalk, on the side closest to the sea. They form pairs. At the front, Audrey Borla and her friend Alix, behind them, Laura and her mother Marie-Claude, then Alix’s mother with her son and finally the two fathers.

“Suddenly, there is the truck, in the distance, all lights extinguished, traces Marie-Claude. People were starting to shout “The truck! The truck!” I saw things falling but I did not understand that they were bodies.” Marie-Claude catches her daughter, the “put aside” and “Suddenly, she was no longer there”. Until Thursday, September 15, 2022, and the broadcast of video surveillance during the trial, she had no further explanation. Now it’s clearer for both parents. “I saw where she had fallen”, his mother said.

The other twin, Audrey, is on the beach and calls her parents, who have remained on the high sidewalk. The mother, flabbergasted, does not move. “A body fell on my feet, it made me jump, describes Marie-Claude. I didn’t think and jumped.” She hurts herself on the rocks. When he hears the “small voice” of his daughter Audrey, after the passage of the truck which brushed against him, Jacques said to himself “it’s good, they are saved”. He descends the stairs and finds his injured wife lying on the ground. Audrey walks up to him and asks him if he hasn’t seen Laura. “There, I started to panic”, he says, trembling.

The group waits for the shots, aimed at neutralizing the truck, to stop. Laura’s parents then go back to the sidewalk to search for their daughter. “It was an open-air cemetery”, portrays Marie-Claude. They scream Laura’s name at the top of their voices. They ask everyone they meet if they have seen the teenager. First towards the Negresco then towards Lenval. Marie-Claude, who is seriously injured, will take x-rays of her back there. She has broken lower back. The couple stays for three hours, until 4:30 a.m., in Lenval. In the meantime, the couple of friends took Audrey home where her brother Nicolas was waiting for news.

Nicolas Borla, now 22, remembers one night “endless”. After receiving two incomprehensible calls from Audrey, he was waiting for her return. He remembers “that lady with white pants and a bloodstained white t-shirt” who goes home with Audrey. “They were crying. It was then that I realized that something very serious had happened”he said at the bar.

Their parents end up going home, without Laura. Nicolas speaks violently to his father as soon as he arrives. Jacques says: “When I got home, he said, ‘Why did you go out? You should never have left! You should never have gone to the fireworks!” For him, I was not the hero that night.” Nicolas announces to the court that he regrets these words. He has his back to the benches of the civil parties but he seems to be addressing his father directly by saying this.

The following night is very difficult for the Borla family. “We didn’t know what to do, we were helpless, explains Nicholas. We waited for her to ring, in the hope that she got lost in town. It was impossible to sleep a wink without knowing she was safe.”

The next day, the parents must go to the victims’ shelter to do a DNA test, in order to be able to compare it with that of the victims, in the identification process. The condition of Marie-Claude worries the professionals on the spot and the couple is taken to the Pasteur hospital in psychiatry. For Marie-Claude, the story almost ends there. During “three or four days”, she doesn’t know exactly what happened. He was given painkillers that made him sleep “like she was in a coma”, describes Jacques. He slept six hours in three days.

The whole family, including Lucie the eldest who returned to Nice as soon as she was able, is working on the search. Colleagues and friends join them. They call all the hospitals, ask the shops in Nice if they haven’t seen Laura, spread the word on social networks… They have hope when a man tells them he has found her. Nicolas went to join him at his place then they went to the Negresco together. “He told us to wait in the car, says Nicholas. He came back and he flew away. We never hear from you again. I can’t understand why he did this to us.”

Lucie, the eldest then aged 19, takes on heavy responsibilities while her parents are in Pasteur’s psychiatric ward.

My parents weren’t there at all, I felt it was my role as a big sister to carry the family. It was just me. It was me or nobody. Everyone was freaking out. I completely forgot myself. I didn’t have time to realize what had happened, to ask myself if I was okay…

On July 17, Jacques Borla was called to the victims’ house. The commissioner then announces the death of Laura. The man collapses and he is taken back to the hospital by the firefighters, where he must take care of announcing the news to his wife.

The same evening, the three children are also called to come to the house of the victims. On the way, Lucie tries not to show her stress to preserve Nicolas and Audrey. There again, it is the superintendent who announces the terrible news to them, in a cold, clumsy and brutal way. Lucie remembers seeing Laura’s twin sister slamming the door and collapsing herself in the hallway. The children are also taken to psychiatry at Pasteur.

The next morning, the three Borla children are brought outside their parents’ room. They never imagined seeing them one day in this state. “My father was lying on the bed, he didn’t answer, he had tears running down his cheeks. My mother, sitting on the edge of the bed, rocking and saying “you have to give Laura back to me””. The children are finally quickly evacuated from the room. “I couldn’t even kiss them”, regret Lucy.

After these very strong stories, all the members of the family testify to the anxieties they have been living since and the isolation in which they have locked themselves up. Their family has “dislocated”, explains Lucy. “We did not understand each other, we completely tore each other”, she abounds.

Nicolas left to live in Orléans a year after the attack, because he couldn’t stay in Nice. Jacques describes himself as a “Destroyed Dad”. They fail to mourn.

The trial rekindles their pain. But for Lucie, it is a need to go through this: “I need to understand for my reconstruction even if it must hurt me.”

As for Audrey, Laura’s twin sister, she chose not to testify at the same time as the rest of her family. His testimony will take place on Tuesday, September 27.

Nice attack trial: the Borla family relives their nightmare at the helm