MANHATTAN — Diners raced to lift a massive mirror off an ex-French minister and others who were trapped beneath it after it fell from a wall inside SoHo's chic French restaurant, Balthazar, Friday morning, witnesses said.
Arnaud Montebourg, a former economic minister who is due to speak at Princeton on Monday, and about nine others were sitting at a table under two large mirrors in the restaurant at 80 Spring St., near West Broadway, when one of them fell off the wall, according to witnesses and an FDNY spokesman.
The mirror didn't shatter.
"I heard a big bang. The mirror fell off the wall. There was like ten people sitting at a table and the mirror just fell on them but it did not break," said William Cherbit, 52, who was visiting from Paris and was at the table next to the mirror.
"It was all very fast. It was huge. it was like a wall coming down."
Cherbit and about 10 other people helped heave the mirror off the people and free them, witnesses said.
Montebourg, a liberal firebrand who was ousted from government in August 2014 for running afoul of the socialist president and his austerity policies, also helped prop up the mirror after getting freed, witnesses said.
"He was shocked. He was dazed. He kept saying, 'S--t, my speech. It's all wet. It's all wet. I've got to dry it up," the economic minister said, according to Cherbit.
Another former French minister whom he's been dating and was dining with, Aurélie Filippeti, asked if there was a copy of the speech, but Montebourg said no, according to Cherbit.
Montebourg is scheduled to deliver a speech at Princeton on Monday comparing the economic problems of America and Europe.
Cherbit also asked the former economic minister how he was feeling.
"'I'm O.K. I don't feel comfortable, but I'm O.K.,'" Montebourg said, according to the tourist.
Witnesses also saw him covering a bleeding head wound with a napkin. He was taken Bellevue Hospital and his injuries did not appear life-threatening, sources said.
FDNY officials initially said that two people suffered minor injuries. It was not immediately clear what happened to the second person.
A manager at the restaurant said it would remain open for lunch.
Montebourg was visiting the city a day after he swung through Princeton and met economist Paul Krugman.
À Princeton, ai remercié le Nobel Paul Krugman pour sa lutte contre l'austérité suicidaire menée par les gvt de l'UE pic.twitter.com/bq9fGeXsJd— Arnaud Montebourg (@montebourg) February 19, 2015
Some inside the eatery posted their experiences online almost immediately afterwards.
".@FDNY are gems. Everyone's OK," tweeted @lizeswein.
It was not immediately clear why the mirror fell.