US victim of Brussels bombing 'lucky' to be alive

25th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A Mormon missionary who survived the blasts at the Brussels airport says he's lucky to be alive after previous brushes with fate at the Boston Marathon bombings and the France terror attacks.

The teenager, Mason Wells, was standing in line at a Delta check-in counter when the first explosion went off just feet (meters) away, he told CNN on Friday.

"My body was actually picked up off the ground for a moment," he said. "My left shoe was blown off and a large part of the right side of my body got really hot and then really cold and I was covered in... a lot of blood that wasn't mine."

It wasn't the first time the 19-year-old had been near a terror attack.

Three years ago, he was standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two bombs detonated close by, killing three people and injuring more than 250.

In November, Wells was in France -- but not Paris -- when members of the Islamic State group attacked a concert hall, a stadium and restaurants and bars, leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Unscathed in those two attacks, Wells says he was "lucky" to be alive after suffering extensive injuries on Tuesday, including shrapnel wounds, a ruptured Achilles tendon and second- and third-degree burns on his hands and face.

Speaking from his hospital bed, his face covered with heavy bandages, he said he had started to run toward an exit when the second bomb detonated.

"I actually felt the explosion on my right side, I could feel the blast," he said. After that, he added, he saw many injured and dead people.

The bombings at the airport and the Brussels metro killed 31 and wounded some 300.

At least two Americans died in the attacks, officials said Friday.

- 'Everything for a reason' -

"My parents always told me that everything happens for a reason," Wells told ABC News about his proximity to three separate terror attacks.

"I don't know why I was in those places," he added. "I believe that God's plan is a lot bigger than maybe we imagine."

Wells, a native of Utah, and two other American Mormon missionaries -- Richard Norby, 66, and Joseph Empey, 20 -- were at the airport escorting a fellow missionary, the Frenchwoman Fanny Clain, 20, as she prepared to depart for an assignment in Ohio.

All three others were also injured.

Norby and Empey underwent surgery for shrapnel wounds and were treated for second-degree burns, ABC News reported.

Clain, who is from Reunion -- a French island in the Indian Ocean -- was badly burned in the blast.

Speaking to CNN from her hospital bed on Thursday, her face and hands bandaged after she emerged from surgery, she said she believed the attackers had been brainwashed.

"I think it's just like sad people and other more sad people who came together and wanted to make something huge," she said. "But all this sadness became into craziness and then they want all the world to be sad as well as them."

Asked how he felt about the experience, Wells told CNN his thoughts are with those who suffered worse injuries.

"My own feelings are just for the people that are out there," he said.

"I hope that they're doing okay. I've just wanted to pray for them."


© 2016 AFP

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