Photographer Antoine Chauvel stayed behind at home after urging his wife to go to the Bastille Day celebration at the Promenadedes Anglais in Nice with their four-year-old son.
"I was looking after my other son at home that was sleeping and I let my wife go because she's not French. She's from South Africa so it was her first 14th of July," Chavuel told "CBS This Morning" Friday. "I wanted her to experience it and my oldest son... and unfortunately, it ended very bad."
Once the fireworks ended, Chauvel said the noise grew calm, except for little fireworks explosions by children. But shortly after 11 p.m., he ran to his window when he heard screams from the streets. He said the attack was "quick" but it "felt like a lifetime."
"I saw people running and I was about to get out to go and... try to get my wife and she came up as I was coming out and turned out she crossed the road literally five seconds before the truck came past behind her," Chauvel said. "A man was -- she telling me she'll remember this -- a man shouting, 'They're shooting, they're shooting, it's an attack. And she ran home luckily safe."
But dozens of others were not so lucky. At least 84 people were killed -- including two Americans-- and dozens more wounded when 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel rammed his truck into the crowd for almost a mile, before he was shot and killed by police.
"My son does not really understand too much what's going on because he's a bit young, but my wife was definitely shocked and was crying...." Chauvel said. "I have to calm her down and yeah, this morning we're taking it slow, you know?"
American lawyer Eric Dratelle - who currently lives in London - was on vacation in Nice and eating with his wife at a nearby restaurant when the massacre unfolded.
"We heard the 'pop, pop, pop' sounds, and my wife, who's actually deaf, recognized the sounds as gunfire. And we immediately got up - we're in the middle of paying our bill - we got up and ran for shelter from the restaurant," Dratelle told CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer. "And as we were running toward the shelter - which is underneath the Promenade - people are literally throwing themselves off the roadway onto the restaurant, the beach."
One man hit his wife when he jumped over, giving her a bruised arm. But Dratelle added, "She's okay. A lot of people injured far worse than she is."
Once he confirmed his family was safe and calmed down his wife, Chauvel headed out to the scene of the massacre with his camera. Bodies were sprawled in the street, covered with tablecloths from nearby restaurants.
"There were bodies just dismantled and there was really horrible, horrible... it's just a horrible scene," Chauvel recalled. "I've been to some places and this was a terrible thing to see in my home country."