The three teenagers found the octogenarian when they were looking for somewhere to let off firecrackers to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14th in the southern village of Buisson in the Lozère area.
By chance, the boys had not gone to their usual spot as their mother hadn’t wanted them to wake the recently-born baby of a neighbour. Instead, they went to a plot of land close to the village church.
“I’d moved away a bit from the others when I heard a moan,” explained 17-year old Florian to local newspaper Midi Libre. “I thought it was an animal. When I moved a bit closer I saw a car, on its roof, that had fallen about six metres.”
The boys went to tell their parents. “They were panicking, trembling and completely white,” the mother told the newspaper. “My brother and Florian went to investigate and feared the worst.”
However, much to their surprise, they found the 88-year old in remarkably good shape. He had managed to stretch out inside the car and only complained of a headache. He told them his name was Léon and that he had been there since the storm two days earlier. He hadn’t eaten or drunk for 48 hours.
Piecing together the story, it seems that the man had pulled off the motorway when the violent storm had broken out. Finding himself lost in the village, he drove down a dead-end road and, while trying to turn around, the car slid down the ditch. He sounded his horn but no-one had heard.
The man’s worried family had raised the alarm the next day but the boys are convinced it would have been difficult to find him.
“Given where he fell, they would have been looking for a long time,” said Florian. “Nobody ever goes round the back of the church.”