A four-year-old girl miraculously survived a shooting in the French Alps that left four people dead by curling up under the bullet-riddled corpses of her mother and grandmother.
The little girl spent eight hours concealed on the back seat of her family’s BMW estate following a mysterious and brutal gun attack which also left her elder sister seriously injured and killed a passer-by.
Her father, who was found dead in the driver’s seat, was identified on Thursday as Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old born in Baghdad but resident of Surrey, London.
The fourth man who died is believed to be a local who happened to be cycling past the scene of the crime. The girl’s elder sister, who was found shot next to the car, was in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being flown by helicopter to the nearby city of Grenoble.
Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in-charge of the investigation, said the wounded sister had been placed in an induced coma ahead of further surgery.
He said the girl’s life was not in danger but revealed that she had been shot in the shoulder and suffered ‘extremely violent’ blows to the head during Wednesday’s attack.
Maillaud said the four-year-old had emerged unscathed. “She stayed, curled up under the bodies for eight hours and didn’t move in all that time,” he said.
The first police to arrive on the scene did not spot the girl and, with the car being left untouched and the area sealed off pending the arrival of forensic experts, she was left to endure a traumatic ordeal until she was finally discovered on Wednesday.
“It was only once we had access to the scene of the crime that we found her,” Maillaud said. “The little girl spoke English. She heard noises, shouts but she can’t tell us any more than that. She is only four-years-old. She is being looked after and we are doing everything we possibly can to care for her.”
The family had been staying at the Saint Jorioz camp site. French authorities said the victims were discovered by another passing cyclist.