Teen injured in Brussels bombing survived Paris, Boston attacks
Published Tuesday, March 22, 2016 6:51AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 23, 2016 8:02AM EDT
An American teenager injured in a bombing in Belgium previously survived deadly terror attacks in Paris and Boston, according to his parents.
Elder Mason Wells, 19, was at the Brussels airport with fellow Mormon missionaries when a bomb went off Tuesday.
“We have spoken to him briefly and he feels blessed that he wasn’t injured more given his close proximity to the bomb,” reads a statement to CTV News from Chad and Kymberly Wells.
“He has undergone surgery to repair his Achilles heel and he’s also been treated for burns and shrapnel injuries,” they added. “We will continue to pray and hope for everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Wells, who is from Utah, was just a block from where a terrorist bomb detonated during the Boston Marathon bombing three years ago, and in France during last November’s ISIS attacks, according to ABC News.
Eyewitness accounts from Belgium:
Eyewitnesses took to social media Tuesday, showing crowds in the subway system following a blast at Maelbeek metro station during the morning rush hour in downtown Brussels.
Witnesses also described the horror at Zaventem airport, one of Belgium’s largest airports and the site of two explosions that happened at 8 a.m. local time.
It was chaos, I cannot describe,” one man said. “It was blood and just chaos.”
Georgian journalist Ketevan Kardava told The Associated Press that she was in line for a flight just after 8 a.m. local time when an item that was shaped like a suitcase exploded near the Delta Airlines counter. Glass walls shattered and smoke filled the air, she said.
“Everything was broken,” she said. “We were crying, shouting, running we didn’t know where.”
Airport worker Anthony Deloos said the first explosion happened near the Swissport counters where customers pay for extra baggage.
A second explosion hit near a Starbucks café in the aiport, Deloos said.
“We heard a big explosion,” Deloos told The Associated Press, adding that he saw shredded paper floating in the air as a colleague told him to run.
“I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe,” he said.
Journalist Ken Standaert said he spoke with people who were at the airport at the time of the blast. One man told him he saw some of the destruction.
“He could see fire, he could see panels from the ceiling coming down onto people so he just turned and ran back to his wife who was still downstairs,” Standaert said in an interview on CTV News Channel.
“It was quite hectic – everybody was running for their lives.”
Tourist Alexandra Strimelle, 12, was checking in baggage with her family at the time the explosions went off at the airport. She said the first explosion sounded like a "little boom," followed by a "big boom" 10 seconds later. She saw "flames everywhere" after the explosion, and pieces of the roof started to fall down. "One piece actually almost fell on me," she told CTV News Channel.
Strimelle ran away from the explosions, stopping only to help a woman use a passport to open a security gate. "A lot of people were screaming and they were going so fast they were hitting themselves on the door," she said.
Strimelle, her parents and her grandparents escaped from the airport unharmed.
Eyewitness accounts from Maelbeek metro station:
After the airport explosions, another blast hit a subway train at Maelbeek station, which is located in central Brussels. Alexandre Brans, 32, said “there was a really loud explosion” as the train was pulling out of the station. Alexandre Brans, 32, said the train was pulling out of the station "when there was a really loud explosion."
Footage captured at the scene showed passengers evacuating the subway system along the tracks.
This was the scene a short while ago, between the Arts-Lois and Maelbeek metro stations in Brussels. pic.twitter.com/aTZjqsF7Gt— Evan Lamos (@evanlamos) March 22, 2016
Evacuated from metro pic.twitter.com/CFlJFwmmfV— ososxe (@ososxe) March 22, 2016
Others posted video of emergency crews responding on the streets of Brussels and areas being evacuated. Outside the station first responders raced to the scene to help those injured while other people were seen with their clothes badly burned. "It was panic everywhere," Brans said. "There were a lot of people in the metro."
Explosión metro maalbeek pic.twitter.com/9KIEhLMOin— Serge Massart (@massart_serge) March 22, 2016
As paramedics tended to the wounded, a nearby hotel lobby was turned into a makeshift emergency room.