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A week after Brussels attack, 2 injured LDS missionaries return to the United States

SALT LAKE CITY — LDS missionary companions Elders Mason Wells and Joseph Empey are back in Utah receiving care at University Hospital in Salt Lake City one week after they were injured seriously by two suicide bombs in the Brussels airport terrorist attack.

Both are in fair condition, said Kathy Wilets, the hospital's director of media relations.

Wells, 19, of Sandy, Utah, is in the hospital's Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Doctors are performing skin grafts on his left ankle and a hand, according to family spokeswoman Jeanette Bennett.

Wells arrived in Utah on Monday and first was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit before being transferred to the burn unit.

Wells was scheduled to return home from his mission in five months. He has been released from his missionary service by a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bennett said.

The other two missionaries wounded in the bombing, Elder Richard Norby, 66, of Lehi, Utah, and Sister Fanny Clain, 20, who is from France, continue to receive medical attention in hospitals in Brussels.

Empey, 20, of Santa Clara, Utah, and Norby will be released from missionary service in the near future, according to an update provided by the LDS Church on Tuesday afternoon.

Doctors placed Norby in a medically induced coma to allow his severe injuries to heal, and brought him out of the coma Saturday night. He will be transported to Utah for additional care to his serious injuries when he is able to travel.

Clain, who was less seriously injured, is expected to resume missionary service in the United States once she recovers.

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

Wells said the first bomb lifted him off the ground, ripped his iPad from his hands, his watch from his left wrist and his shoe from his left foot. Shrapnel shredded the Achilles' tendon on his left foot and broke his left heel. He suffered burns to his head, face, arms and hands.

In addition to the ruptured Achilles' tendon repaired by Belgian doctors, Wells has a broken left heel, Bennett said. He is expected to need multiple surgeries in the future.

Wells and Empey, who were zone leaders, accompanied Clain to the airport so the 20-year-old Frenchwoman could catch a flight to her LDS mission assignment in Ohio.

As they tried to help her obtain her tickets, the first bomb exploded nearby, injuring all four.

Wells was running for the airport doors when the second bomb exploded. Empey later found him standing outside in a pool of blood, helped him to the ground and gave him a priesthood blessing. He suffered significant blood loss, his father reported. Wells also told reporters he remembered being covered in the blood of others.

Wells is a 2014 graduate of Lone Peak High School, where he was a football player and member of the student council. Empey graduated in 2014 from Snow Canyon High School, where he played rugby.

The Wells and Empey families are asking for privacy at this time while Mason and Joe begin the recovery process, but would like to express their gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of support they have received from around the world.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com