Kymberly Wells got to sleep in the Brussels hospital room with her son Elder Mason Wells after she and her husband, Chad Wells, flew from Salt Lake City to Paris on Wednesday evening.
“I can’t imagine not being here after finding out he literally has a large open wound in his ankle that needs a skin flap,” Wells said. “We are so glad we came when we did.”
In addition to the leg and foot injuries, Mason has third-degree burns on his right hand and other burns on his head and face. Today he is undergoing evasive and painful procedures on his hand, and Kymberly reached out to friends and family asking for prayers as Mason is in significant pain.
The Wells flew out with an LDS Church public relations representative. The parents of Mason’s companion, Elder Joseph Empey, flew out on Thursday but were delayed in Atlanta. The elders were two of four missionaries injured in the terrorist attack at the Brussels airport on Tuesday, March 22.
The LDS Church facilitated seven interviews with Mason (while wrapped in white gauze) conducted by American and European news agencies. More interviews will take place with Chad and Kymberly outside the hospital.
Decisions about Mason’s recovery are ongoing and will likely include treatments in Brussels and then continued treatment in Salt Lake City when he’s stable enough to be transported.
Chad served an LDS mission to France and still speaks the language and has connections in the area.
“French local church leaders met us with chocolate croissants at the airport, which is what they give new missionaries when they arrive,” Kymberly said.
The Wells found out about the Brussels blast when Kymberly’s father called them at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. He said the explosion was at the airport, which initially gave them comfort because they didn’t expect Mason to be at the airport as part of his daily missionary duties. Later they learned that as the zone leader, he was in the group transporting a sister missionary to fly out to the United States. All four missionaries were hurt in the explosion. Mason was taken to a separate hospital than the other missionaries and was mostly alone for the first 48 hours following the blast.
Chad and Kymberly talked to Mason twice before arriving at his bedside. During the first 3-minute conversation on Wednesday — facilitated by a generous Brussels anesthesiologist — Mason asked if his parents had received the email about his upcoming housing at the University of Utah. This somewhat lighthearted moment helped the family realize that Mason’s personality and intellectual functions were in tact.
A long two days ensued when the Wells family was inundated with media requests, logistical questions, phone calls from Utah’s top political leaders, hundreds of texts from friends, and counters full of food and flowers. When the flight plans were solidified, the Wells had about an hour to pack and get out the door. Their younger children wrote notes for their parents to give to Mason.
Chad, Kymberly and Mason Wells were also near the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013 when that blast exploded.