Shelby Twp. couple in France: ‘It was incredibly scary’

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Eric Patton wanted to be somewhere special when he asked his girlfriend, Lauren Dissmore, to spend the rest of her life with him. So he planned an epic trip, beginning this week in Paris.

The Shelby Township couple went on a tour of the City of Light on Thursday. Then, Patton took Dissmore to Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge in Paris where couples attach love padlocks then throw the key in the Seine River.

It was there he asked her to marry him; she said yes, and they went to dinner later that night in the Eiffel Tower restaurant.

“It was romantic and she was shocked and very happy,” said Patton, speaking by phone Sunday from the south of France, where the couple traveled next.

But their storybook proposal turned surreal the following day when three teams of terrorists carried out coordinated assaults in Paris, killing 129 people and injuring hundreds more. Authorities believe that eight attackers, with connections to the Islamic State, carried out plans that targeted Parisian restaurants, bars, a sports stadium and a concert hall.

Patton, 30, heard about the attacks while he and Dissmore were waiting to go into the Moulin Rouge. They received a text message from friends back in the United States.

“At the time, no one else seemed to know in Paris,” said Patton. “We found out from everyone back in the U.S.”

The couple didn’t understand the magnitude of the attacks until leaving the Moulin Rouge and not far from the Bataclan concert hall, site of the most carnage, where at least 89 people were killed.

Most businesses were closed when they left the Moulin Rouge, but they found a spot open to stay awhile. Then they took a taxi back to their hotel.

The next day, Paris was eerily quiet, with no one out in the streets. “Everything was closed,” Patton said. “It was a very weird feeling in the city.”

The couple has since moved on from Paris. Though they are safe, they will always remember, he said, that their engagement coincided with one of the worst attacks in Paris.

Dissmore declined to comment for this story.

“It was incredibly scary,” Patton said. “We offer all our condolences to the victims and their families. It is certainly nothing we will ever forget.”