Swiss photographer René Robert has died in the middle of a busy Paris street last week after he fell and was ignored by passersby for over nine hours.
The incident has prompted grief, anger and questioning in France, sparking debate about civic responsibility and basic human decency.
Eighty-five-year-old René Robert, who is known for his shots of some of Spain's most famous flamenco legends, slipped and fell during one of his nightly walks around his busy neighbourhood, reports The Guardian.
According to his friend the journalist Michel Mompontet, Robert fell over on Rue de Turbigo, between the Place de la République and Les Halles.
"He suffered a dizzy spell and fell," Mompontet said in a series of tweets.
"Unable to get up, he lay rooted to the spot in the cold for nine hours until a homeless person called the emergency services.
"Too late. He had hypothermia and couldn't cling on to life. Over the course of those nine hours no passerby stopped to check why this man was lying on the pavement. Not one," he wrote.
Mompontet, detailing on circumstances of his friend's death told France TV Info, Robert had been "killed by indifference."
"If this awful death could serve some purpose, it would be this: when a human is lying on the pavement, we should check on them – no matter how busy we may be. Let's just stop for a second," he added.
The Olivar Association, which has worked with young homeless people in Madrid for more than 30 years, tweeted – "A lot of people are talking about the awful story of René Robert. But the reality is that this is the cruel, day-to-day experience of those who live and die on the street. What is happening to us as a society that something like this can happen?"
According to homeless associations, 600 people die on the streets of France every year.
Mompontet called attention to how many people, including himself, often look the other way when it comes to people on the street.
"Before giving any lessons or accusing anyone, I need to deal with a little question that makes me feel uneasy," he said.
"Am I 100% sure that I would have stopped had I been confronted with that scene – a man on the ground? Have I never turned away from a homeless person lying in a doorway?"
A headline in Le Figaro reads – "The photographer René Robert, dead in the indifference of the middle of the street."
Meanwhile, the Spanish Embassy in the Netherlands tweeted – "The death of René Robert, who immortalised with his camera all the great artists of flamenco, challenges our collective conscience."
One of his recent subjects, Grammy-winning flamenco singer Arcángel, said, "Very sad at the loss of René Robert, who I was lucky enough to meet and be photographed by,"
"I can't understand why no one helped him; I don't want to think that we live in a society with so few values."