The American Girl@Kate Horsley Page 0,1
anyone was behind me or not. Maybe I should have looked around or something, but I couldn’t stop long enough to listen. Then the sun started to rise. I remember thinking it looked like melted metal running down between the trees. Would’ve been pretty if I hadn’t been so terrified. By that time, I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. All of a sudden, I heard, um, a river rushing by, I thought.
So I ran towards the sound, but there was a slope I didn’t see and I stumbled down it. Then I saw where the noise was from—not a river, but the road. Well, more of a track. I followed it for a while. I don’t know how long. My feet really hurt. I was cold, shivering. I kept looking over my shoulder all the time, hoping someone would come.
Then I heard this sound . . . tires on the road and I saw a red car coming, so I ran to it, waving my arms and shouting and stuff, but the driver just kept on going and the headlights blinded me. I kind of knew it would hit, but I couldn’t move. I just . . . froze.
[Quinn laughs softly]
Do you find all of that as hard to make sense of as I do?
Well, you can “ask again later” if you want to.
JULY 30, 2015
It’s two days since they found her. The papers say she was wandering on the road, barefoot and bloodied, her mouth open in a scream the driver couldn’t hear. He slammed the brakes but didn’t stop in time; he hit her and took off.
As fate would have it, a German tourist couple was parked on the top of a hill along the road, filming a panorama of the sunrise over the lavender fields. In the midst of their early-morning filmmaking, the camera panned towards the road—and caught the whole accident, from the moment she walked out of the woods. She was lucky, I guess. If they hadn’t spotted her, who knows how long she would have lain there bleeding.
According to Le Monde, the tourists ran to help and rushed the unconscious girl to the hospital here in St. Roch; but by the time the doctors wheeled her into intensive care, she was in a coma. Shaken, the pair returned to their holiday flat and watched their French sunrise video. They were shocked afresh by the sight of the girl lying crumpled in the road, the way the red car sped away, the scene captured as they ran downhill to help her—filming as they went.
That’s how the video went viral. The Good Samaritans saw that glimpse of red car, the hint of a plate (a nine? an E?), the merest blur of a man’s face, hair dark, sunglasses on. They decided the best thing to do was upload the clip to YouTube. It spread to Facebook as one of those long status updates calling on the public: “find this monster,” “help the #AmericanGirl.”
She wouldn’t have made the headlines except it was a slow news week and the story of an American girl abroad for the first time, alone—a mystery girl who walked out of the woods—spread in the way stories do nowadays. In the video, there was that hint of foul play: not just a hit-and-run, after all, but something darker. Otherwise, why would the girl be half naked and screaming before the car ran her down? Soon the clip was trending on Twitter and dominating the insistent worm of text that slithers across the bottom of your TV during the news. It became one of those stories everyone’s curious about, one of those mysteries everyone wants to solve.
That’s why I’m here, me and the handful of other hacks camped outside the Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse in St. Roch, where the nuns come and go at inhospitable hours, murmuring prayer and giving no sound bites. I’m the most recent arrival, late to the party, crashing in uninvited as usual. Well, not quite uninvited. I was in Paris when I heard the news. First holiday in years, and then this story broke.
I was intrigued. I called Bill to tell him about it and he said, “Why don’t you go? Cover it for the program. We’ll do an episode on it.” Dangling the thought, a whole episode with me at the wheel.
I said, “Go away, Bill, I’m on holiday,” but I found myself thinking about that American girl, all the more so because the video was impossible to get