Brussels remain on high-alert following the terrorist attacks on Tuesday that killed 31 people and injured 270 others. Brian Stanley, a Reisterstown man, was at the Brussels airport that morning and was nearby the site of one of the explosions.
“We were having a conversation and then the first explosion went off over my shoulder like within 50 feet of where we were standing” Stanley said.
It was his first-time in Europe. Stanley’s a martial arts instructor and he was invited to help teach a martial arts seminar for police officers. He and his student arrived at the Brussels airport on Monday but due to a luggage issue they were forced to change their flight to Tuesday.
“It was unfortunate that we had to get our flight switched, which was the reason we were flying out when the incident occurred on that Tuesday,” said Stanley.
They were in line to check their bags when the first bomb exploded.
“As soon as you heard the noise you could feel it in your chest in your stomach like someone knocked the wind out of you,” Stanley said. “Where we were there were many people injured, there was a female Delta airline employee that had blood all over the side of her face, there was one gentleman on the ground missing one part of his leg laying on the ground, people were running, people were screaming, people were crying.”
Not knowing exactly what happened or what would come next, Stanley and his student, both unharmed, rushed out of the airport and flagged down a cab.
“We had to shelter in place at a very small hotel. Bad luck, the hotel we had just got a room at just to stay somewhere, on that side of the street was the metro where the other bomb went off,” he said.
Stanley had been in contact with some of the police officers he had helped trained over the weekend and they made sure he was escorted to a safe location. He then traveled to Amsterdam to fly to Detroit then to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
After a long journey Stanley returned home Thursday evening. Even though he’s thousands of miles away from where it all happened, he said the images from that day keep replaying in his head
“It's the moment it went off and the immediate things that I saw right afterwards, that stick with you the most,” Stanley said.
They might always be with him, but he said the fear will not. He still plans to travel to new places and wants to use the experience to make himself stronger and to inspire others to have hope.
“It'll take time but if I need help I'll seek help so I can stabilize myself mentally to be able to live my life, you have to do that. Once you give up that freedom, whatever you want to call those people, they've won. You can't give up on that, no,” Stanley said.