The first explosion lifted Elder Mason Wells off the ground. Seconds later, as he ran for an exit at the Brussels airport, the second blast detonated.
Sitting in a hospital bed with his head wrapped in gauze, Elder Mason Wells gave TV interviews Friday, describing a chaotic, gruesome scene from the terrorist attack that left him covered in blood and caused shrapnel wounds and burns to him and three other Mormon missionaries serious enough that all four have required surgery.
Elder Wells, 19, of Sandy, Utah, who was reunited with his parents on Friday, also told interviewers that despite the attack, his faith in God is intact.
Elder Wells and two other missionaries were at the airport just before 8 a.m. on Tuesday to drop off Sister Fanny Clain, 20, of Montélimar, France, who was scheduled to board a flight to the United States to serve in the Ohio Cleveland Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Wells said he was trying to help Sister Clain get her plane tickets to the United States out of a small machine at the airport before the first of two suicide bombs detonated. That was part of his responsibility in the France Paris Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Paris Mission includes Belgium, and Elder Wells had moved to Brussels five weeks earlier.
The machine didn't work, so an airport attendant directed the four missionaries to the back of the line at the checkout desk. Elder Wells pulled out his iPad to check on the tickets and was looking at it when the first blast went off.
"It was really loud. It was really loud," he told CNN, shaking his head with a far-off look. "I was looking down and all of a sudden a huge blast came from my right. I believe my body was actually lifted off the ground for a moment. My iPad that was in my hands, I don’t know what happened, it just disappeared. I think it actually might have hit me in the head when it got blasted out of my hands. My watch on my left hand just disappeared. My left shoe just was blown off. 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 fluids, a lot of blood. A lot of that blood wasn’t mine."
Elder Wells told Matt Lauer of NBC's Today Show that after the first blast he saw fire in front of his face and on the ground and that those flames caused his burns. He suffered second-degree burns to his head and arms and shrapnel wounds to his legs. Doctors performed surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
"My body was lifted off the ground during the first blast — very loud," he said. "And I started running toward the exit. A lot of people started to run toward the exit. I’d taken a couple steps, about three seconds later the second blast went off."
During the interviews, Elder Wells' head was covered in gauze from the middle of his neck to the top of his head, where only a tuft of hair was visible. The only holes in the gauze were for his eyes, the tip of his nostrils, his mouth and his left ear.
I know that if I can feel His love sitting on a sidewalk next to a destroyed airport, that God Hell talk to His other children too. Mason Wells, a Mormon missionary who lived through the Boston bombings, Paris and Brussels attacks, told Fox News that these events have fortified his faith in God. http://bit.ly/1UQhEDcPosted by Fox News on Friday, March 25, 2016
"Everything I've lived up to this point has fortified my personal faith that God is there," Elder Wells, 19, of Sandy, Utah, told Fox News. "I know that I've felt his love several times. I know that if I can feel his love sitting on a sidewalk next to a destroyed airport, God will talk to his other children, too. I know that he does listen to prayers, and that the prayers the people are (giving) now, they make a difference, because I've felt them."
Family of the four missionaries are arriving in Belgium and some of the missionaries are giving their first media interviews. CNN captured video of the reunion Elder Wells had with his parents, Chad and Kymberly Wells, when they arrived in his hospital room.
His mother laid her head on his chest and held his hand and head as they said hello. It's been nearly two years since their son left on his mission soon after graduating in 2014 from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah.
Sister Clain spoke to French TV on Thursday.
She said the bomb sounded "like the end of the world" and the concussion knocked her to the ground. She got up and ran out of the airport and didn't know she had suffered burns until others told her and she looked in a mirror to see her reflection.
On Friday morning, Sister Clain's father, Thierry Clain, issued an update on her condition through the church.
"Fanny is doing well," he said. "She was operated on today to remove shrapnel from her body and is resting. She also received second-degree burns to her hands and face and is receiving treatment. I have been in contact with the hospital, but was unable to talk with Fanny because she was sleeping. I have been extremely touched by the concern and goodness expressed by others in regards to Fanny. I look forward to visiting her Saturday and staying a few days with her."
On French TV, Sister Clain said she is conserving her tears.
"I cried a little bit yesterday but I'm not going to cry too much," Clain said. "Otherwise, I'll get dehydrated."
The LDS Church is helping reunite the four missionaries with their families. Some have arrived in Belgium and others are en route, said church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Friday.
"They're coming to help make medical decisions and to work with health care providers to expedite the recovery of each of these missionaries," Hawkins added. "The families have asked me to express their gratitude for the love and the outreach that they have felt from around the world. We would encourage all to continue to pray for all who have been impacted by this tragedy."10 comments on this story
Elder Wells has said that he was feet away from one of the bombs when it detonated with his mission companion, Elder Joseph Dresden Empey, 20, of Santa Clara, Utah, and Elder Richard Norby, 66, of Lehi.
"I was so lucky, being how close I was, and I saw a lot of people that were injured badly," he told CNN. "The only feeling I have is hope they're OK because I'm very lucky, and I know there are some who weren't as lucky as I was, being so close."
Elder Norby is in a medically induced coma with similar wounds to his legs, head and neck.
Elder Empey also has similar injuries, but he is awake and has spoken with his parents.