zMormon Newsroom

Updates on Mormon Missionaries Injured in Belgium Explosion

22 March 2016


UPDATE: (June 2, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. MDT)

On Friday, May 27, Sister Fanny Clain was briefly reunited with Mason Wells and Dresden Empey. Their 20-minute reunion at the Provo Missionary Training Center was the first time they had seen one another since the morning of March 22, when the bombing occurred in the Brussels airport.

All three missionaries shared their joy at being together again and compared details about their injuries, treatment and recovery. Sister Clain had previously visited Richard Norby in his hospital room at the University of Utah Medical Center. Sister Clain departed the Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, May 31, for her assignment as a full-time missionary in Ohio.

UPDATE: (May 26, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. MDT)

The family of Richard Norby and his wife, Pam, provided the following update Thursday on his condition and progress:

On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, nine weeks since the March 22, 2016, bombing at the Brussels Zaventem Airport, Richard Norby was discharged from the University of Utah Medical Center. For our family, this day was an absolute miracle. He and our mother are now creating a new version of normal life for themselves with the addition of daily wound care of his legs and physical and occupational therapy sessions. He still has significant shrapnel wounds to his legs that require attention. His burns and broken left leg are healing as expected. Emotional and physical healing are their priority, and they look forward to what they will learn along the way. The road to recovery remains long but manageable. The outcome for our father remains unseen, but we share his optimism that “it will be ok, whatever ok is. It will be ok.”

This new chapter is a time of gratitude for the many medical personnel in Utah and in Brussels who made this day possible. It is a time of gratitude for all of the many who have prayed for miracles on his and our mother’s behalf. Our family has been comforted and blessed with peace during this wonderfully trying time.

Most importantly, Richard and Pam, as well as the Norby family, would like to express our sincere thanks to a loving Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. God lives. He loves His children and knows each of our needs. While we don’t always understand His purposes for us in this life, we trust that He knows best and understand the important refining process of trials.

UPDATE: (May 2, 2016, at 5 p.m. MDT)

The family of Richard Norby and his wife, Pam, provided the following update Monday on his condition and progress:

Richard and Pam Norby were released from their full-time missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, April 17, 2016. Their positive attitudes and understanding of the Lord's hand in in their lives continues to help them in the healing process. Richard is recovering as expected and continues to regain strength. His memory and ability to communicate were unaffected by the events of March 22, 2016. Recently, he has achieved important milestones such as sitting up on his own, feeding himself, and after being assisted — sitting in a wheelchair. Accompanied by his nurse and family, he even enjoyed a short trip outside of the hospital to witness a beautiful overcast day earlier this week. He enjoys visiting with immediate family as much as possible. Still, he has many weeks, months and years ahead of hospital stays, recovery and rehabilitation — all with an uncertain future. Richard and Pam are grateful for the very competent and thorough care they have received here in Utah, as well as in Belgium. While they are happy to be among family and friends in Utah, they deeply miss their friends and the people of Belgium and France.

As family, we would like to sincerely thank those who have expressed their love and support in social media, in cards and in other meaningful ways. We have a special place in our hearts for and offer prayers on behalf of the other injured survivors and those families who lost loved ones in the Brussels attacks.

UPDATE: (April 16, 2016, at 7:50 p.m. MDT)

The family of Elder Richard Norby provided the following update Saturday on his condition and progress:

Elder Richard Norby has made positive strides in his recovery over the past many days. His feeding tube was removed earlier this week and he is enjoying solid foods again. He is more alert and has repeatedly thanked his Belgian medical staff for their care and concern.

On Saturday, April 16, 2016, twenty-six days after the Brussels terrorist attacks, Elder Norby, accompanied by his wife, returned to the United States on an air ambulance plane. He was admitted to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is receiving continued care for his burns and shrapnel wounds.

As his family, we would like to sincerely thank the many nurses and physicians at the A.Z. Jan Portaels Hospital and the Queen Astrid Military Hospital that have cared for our husband and father with sympathy, professionalism, and love over these many weeks. You have become our friends and answers to our prayers. At the time of this next step in his care, we are still very mindful of the many other victims and families that are suffering and in mourning. You remain in our prayers.

UPDATE: (April 8, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. MDT)

The family of Elder Richard Norby provided the following update Friday on his condition and progress:

Elder Norby remains in a Belgium hospital's ICU. He continues to deal with the serious effects of infection and injury from shrapnel and the progress is slower than we had anticipated. We are very grateful for the thoughts and prayers that continue to come on his behalf. We are looking forward to having him back in the United States for continued care and recovery as soon as possible.

UPDATE: (March 31, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. MDT)

The University of Utah Hospital held a press conference Thursday, March 31, 2016, with the families of former Mormon missionaries Joseph Empey and Mason Wells, alongside their doctors, to provide an update on their condition and recovery. 

The following statement was also provided by the University of Utah Hospital:

Both Joseph “Dres” Empey and Mason Wells are in fair condition and are expected to make full recoveries. They are recovering from second-degree burns of the hands, chest, arms and face in the University’s Burn Center are are being treated by a team led by Dr. Giavonni Lewis. Mason Wells is also recovering from an Achilles tendon injury caused by shrapnel.

The parents—Court and Amber Empey of Santa Clara, Utah and Chad and Kymberly Wells of Sandy, Utah—expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received and asked for privacy in the coming weeks and months as their sons recover. 

UPDATE (March 29, 2016, at 2:55 p.m. MDT)

Two of the four missionaries badly injured in the Brussels bombings last week are back in the United States and will be released from missionary service, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said today.

The pair — Elder Mason Wells and Elder Joseph Empey, both from Utah — have returned to the United States and are receiving medical care at a Utah hospital.

Through Church spokeswoman Kristen Howey, the families of the missionaries expressed their profound gratitude for the concern and prayers offered by many during the past week.

The other two injured missionaries, Elder Richard Norby and Sister Fanny Clain, continue to receive medical attention in hospitals in Brussels. Elder Norby will be transported to the U.S. for additional care to serious injuries and will also be released from missionary service in the near future. Sister Clain, who was less seriously injured, is expected to resume missionary service in the United States when she is fit enough to do so.

Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the Church's Missionary Department, expressed "love and gratitude" to each missionary and their families. “These missionaries and their loved ones have all been through a traumatic experience. They have each borne it with faith and fortitude. We are proud of all of them.”  

UPDATE (March 25, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. MDT)

Sister Fanny Rachel Clain's father, Thierry Clain, provided the following update (listed below in English and French) on her condition:

Fanny is doing well. She was operated on yesterday to remove shrapnel from her body and is resting. She also received 2nd 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.

Fanny se porte bien. Elle a été opérée hier pour retirer des éclats dans son corps et se repose. Elle a également eu des brûlures au 2ème degré aux mains et au visage et reçoit un traitement. Je suis en contact avec l'hôpital, mais je n'ai pas pu encore parler avec Fanny parce qu'elle dormait. Je suis très touché par l'inquiétude et la bonté exprimée par d'autres personnes en ce qui concerne Fanny. Je me réjouis de lui rendre visite samedi et de rester quelques jours avec elle.

—Thierry Clain

UPDATE (March 24, 2016, at 8:45 p.m. MDT)

Watch a statement from Church spokesman Eric Hawkins (speaking from Belgium) about how the Church is helping reunite injured missionaries in Brussels with their loved ones.

Downloadable remote interview with Church spokesman in Brussels

UPDATE (March 23, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. MDT)

In response to the high volume of media requests, the Church is providing statements from the families of three of the missionaries affected by the explosions Tuesday in Belgium.

Wells Family Statement:

We are grateful that our son, Elder Mason Wells, survived the attack and is receiving quality medical care. We have spoken to him briefly and he feels blessed that he wasn’t injured more, given his close proximity to the bomb. He has undergone surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, and he’s also been treated for burns and shrapnel injuries. As a family, we feel the power of prayer from those we know and those who only heard Mason’s name for the first time today. We will continue to pray and hope for everyone affected by this tragedy.

—Chad and Kymberly Wells

Empey Family Statement:

This has been a difficult day for our family, and our hearts are broken for those injured or killed by the attacks in Belgium. We are grateful our son, Elder Joseph Dresden Empey, is alive and doing well. He has been treated for second-degree burns to his hands, face, and head, and surgery was just completed for shrapnel injuries to his legs. We have been in touch with him and he is grateful and in good spirits. We have also been in contact with his mission president. We are thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers from throughout the world, and we pray for all those affected by this tragedy. 

—Court and Amber Empey

Norby Family Statement:

Richard Norby, a missionary serving in the Paris, France mission was injured in the bombing of the Brussels Airport on Tuesday March 22, 2016. He sustained several wounds from the shrapnel, second-degree burns to his head and neck area, along with more severe trauma from shrapnel to his lower leg. After a lengthy surgery, he was placed in a medically-induced coma, and will remain in this state for the next few days, with a lengthy recovery expected. His wife, Pamela Norby, was not at the airport at the time of the attack and is supporting him during this challenging time.

 As his family, we wish to express our deep appreciation to his caring and competent medical staff and to all those who have expressed well-wishes and prayers on his behalf. We wish to express our love to the Paris, France mission president, President Babin, his wife, and the fine missionaries. Our prayers go out to all those who were affected by this terrible tragedy and wish for the speedy recovery of all the wounded bystanders. 

—The Norby Family

UPDATE (March 22, 2016, at 4:57 p.m. MDT)

Watch an online interview with President Frederic J. Babin of the France Paris Mission regarding missionaries injured in the Brussels airport attack:

Downloadable online interview of France Paris Mission President regarding injured missionaries

UPDATE (March 22, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. MDT)

The Church has learned that the fourth missionary, Sister Fanny Rachel Clain, has also been hospitalized with minor injuries. As reported previously, she was with the three other missionaries who were injured, but had left them and passed through airport security when the explosion occurred. The Church will provide more information as we are able. (Contrary to this information provided shortly after the attacks, it is our understanding now that Sister Clain had not passed through security and was standing with the other missionaries at the time of the explosion. She also sustained substantial injuries.)

(March 22, 2016, at 8:00 a.m. MDT)  

Three Mormon missionaries serving in the Paris, France mission were seriously injured in Tuesday's explosion at the Brussels airport, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported this morning.

The three had been accompanying a fourth missionary who was on her way to a mission assignment in Ohio, and who had already passed through airport security.

While detailed, accurate information is difficult to obtain because of limited communications in Brussels, 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.

The injured missionaries, whose families have been notified, are:

    Elder Richard Norby (66) of Lehi, Utah.

    Elder Joseph Empey (20) of Santa Clara, Utah.

    Elder Mason Wells (19) of Sandy, Utah.

The missionaries were taking Sister Fanny Rachel Clain (20) of Montélimar, France, to the airport. Sister Clain had been serving in that mission while awaiting a permanent visa for the United States.

All missionaries in the France Paris Mission have been asked to remain in their apartments.

The First Presidency of the Church promptly issued a statement this morning in response to the bombings:

With much of the world, we awoke this morning to the heartbreaking news of the bombings in Belgium. 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.

Notice to media:  Because of difficulty in communications in Brussels, media are asked not to call the mission office and occupy phone lines. Information and updates will be posted on Mormon Newsroom as they become available.

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