GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – The brother of a Gatlinburg man who went missing after Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels said his family was mistakenly informed that the missing couple had been found.
Levi Sutton says the State Department initially told them Justin and Stephanie Shults, both graduates of Vanderbilt Universiy, had been found in a hospital with unknown injuries, but a social worker in Belgium has now said the family was given incorrect information.
The families released a joint statement Wednesday evening through Sen. Bob Corker. The statement reads, “At this time, neither Belgium nor U.S. officials have confirmed that Justin and Stephanie Shults have been located. We are thankful for the outpouring of love and support we have received at this difficult time and ask for prayers for Justin and Stephanie.”
Justin Shults’ mother Sheila Shell said Wednesday she last heard from her son on Saturday when he left Nashville to head back to Brussels, where he now lives with his wife Stephanie.
Shell said she woke up Monday morning to the news of the attack and a missed phone call from Stephanie Shult’s dad. He told her they’d been at the airport to send Stephanie Shults’s mom back to the U.S. after a visit. The trio were there during the attack.
The concerned mother said Stephanie Shults’ mother was knocked down in the blast, but is okay. Once she got up, she wasn’t able to find Stephanie or Justin and no one was able to reach them.
Justin Shults was in Paris the day of the most recent Paris attack. Shell was unable to reach him then, but later found out he had been on a flight out of the city at the time.
Shell said the Brussels government had been withholding information from her. She said she’s called all of the hospitals, but keeps being told they aren’t allowed to release any information, including whether Stephanie and Justin are patients or not. Shell said she has also been in constant communication with the state department and embassy with the help of Sen. Bob Corker’s office.
“My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the horrific terror attacks in Brussels, especially the family of Justin and Stephanie Shults,” said Corker. “Our office remains in close contact with the family and with the State Department.”
The mother said both of the companies they work for had been searching for them as well. Family members say they are heading to Atlanta to fly to Brussels on Thursday.