An explosion the morning of Tuesday March 22 in the Brussels Airport injured four missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were serving in the France Paris Mission.
“Mission President Frederic J. Babin has reported that three of the missionaries were in the proximity of the explosion when it occurred and have been hospitalized,” according to Mormon Newsroom.
The missionaries who were injured in the blast were Elder Richard Norby (66) of Lehi, Utah; Elder Joseph Empey (20) of Santa Clara, Utah; and Elder Mason Wells (19) of Sandy, Utah. The Church later learned that Sister Fanny Rachel Clain (20) of Montélimar, France, was also hospitalized with minor injuries, according to Mormon Newsroom.
The three elders were taking Clain to the airport from which she would travel to her assignment in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. She had been serving in the France Paris Mission while waiting for a permanent visa for the United States, according to Mormon Newsroom.
Burgon Tillotson, a friend of Wells, said she was shocked when she saw the news.
“I was sitting at work, and I usually check KSL just to get the daily news,” Tillotson said. “When I got on, the first thing I saw was his picture, and I thought, ‘Oh no! He’s not here, he’s on his mission, it’s obviously something out there!’ So I look at the article, and I saw that there was another bombing.”
That bombing combined with another in a Brussels subway took the lives of at least 30 people, according to The New York Times.
Tillotson said Wells’s achilles tendon ruptured, and he had burns on his right hand and side of his head. She said he underwent surgery, and it went very well.
“I lived with Elder Empey for six weeks in Liege, another city in Belgium,” said Brandan Motiuk, a sophomore studying biology who recently returned home from his mission in Paris, France. “Sister Clain and I served around each other for 18 weeks. Elder Wells was my zone leader, along with Elder Empey.”
Motiuk said he served in Brussels where Elder Norby was serving. He said they all lived a few blocks away from each other.
“I spent a lot of time with the Norbys,” Motiuk said. “Elder Norby is like a grandfather to me.”
Elder Norby’s family said he suffered second-degree burns and shrapnel wounds to his head and neck, along with severe shrapnel wounds to his lower leg, according to Deseret News.
“Doctors performed a lengthy surgery, the family said, then placed him in a medically induced coma,” according to Deseret News. “He will remain in that state for the next few days, with a lengthy recovery expected.”
Elder Norby’s wife was serving with him in the France Paris Mission but was not with him at the airport during the bombing. She is at his side at the hospital, according to Deseret News.
Motiuk said he thinks it is awful that his friends from his misson were injured from the terrorist attack.
“Growing up in the Middle East, I grew to love the religion of Islam, and this act of terrorism is not making the face of Islam any better,” Motiuk said. “ISIS does not represent the Islamic religion.”
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement March 22 in response to the attacks, according to Mormon Newsroom.
“With much of the world, we awoke this morning to the heartbreaking news of the bombings in Belgium,” the First Presidency said in the statement. “Our prayers are with the families of the deceased and injured, including four of our missionaries who were injured and hospitalized. We also pray for the people of Belgium and France as they continue to deal with the uncertainty and devastation caused by the recent terrorist attacks.”