19-Year-Old American Survives His Third Terror Attack
News| | By Nick Nunez
For most of us, Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels evoked thoughts and images of the recent attacks in Paris and Boston. However, for a 19-year-old American victim, the airport bombing had a much more significant impact for a surreal reason: this is the third terrorist attack that he’s lived through.
Mason Wells, a student and Mormon missionary from Utah, was in Belgium for part of his two-year missionary trip to Europe. He and several of his companions were at the Brussels Airport at the time of the bombing. Wells was standing only feet away from the explosion, which resulted in severe burns, a severed Achilles tendon, a gash to the head, and shrapnel injuries. All of Wells’ missionary partners were wounded, but fortunately, they are all expected to survive their injuries.
During an interview with Mason’s father, Chad Wells, he confirmed that this was not his son’s first brush with terror. Mason was in France as a part of his missionary trip during the November attacks in Paris. The father and son were also near the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon watching Mason’s mother finish the race when they felt an explosion only a block away.
“I’m completely shocked by the news. It’s the kind of thing as a parent you never, ever want to wake up to,” Chad Wells said. “We’re just grateful that he lived through this experience.”
Mason’s father said that he found out about the attacks Tuesday morning from the TV, later learning from his son’s mission president in France that Mason was hurt. After a long surgery, Mason’s parents finally got to speak to their son. A recording of their conversation depicted that Mason is in good spirits and on his way to recovery.
Richard Norby, 66, and 20-year-old Joseph Empey (pictured above with Wells) were with Mason at the time of the explosion. Empey was treated for second-degree burns to his hands, face, and head as well as shrapnel wounds to his legs. Norby and Empey are expected to recover.
The president of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints’ France Paris Mission, Frederic J. Babin, assured members of the church and the missionaries’ families that they have been working on new safety measures ever since the Paris attacks. He also said that while he instructed members of the France Paris Mission to stay home, the missionaries will continue their work in Europe.
The Wells family is still uncertain if they’ll see their son in Brussels or if Mason will finish out the last four months of his mission. For the time being, they are just hoping that this is the last time Mason will have to experience terrorism.
“Hopefully he’s run his lifelong odds and we’re done,” said Chad Wells. “I think it will make him a stronger person. Maybe the Boston experience was there to help him get through this experience.”