There was confusion Wednesday afternoon about the status of Lexington native Stephanie Shults and her husband, Justin Shults, who have been missing in Brussels since Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.
Relatives initially reported on social media that the U.S. State Department said the two had been found alive at a hospital in Brussels.
About 6:20 p.m., however, Justin Shults’ brother Levi Sutton retracted his statement on Twitter. He posted that the family had been misinformed by someone in the State Department.
Betty Newsom, Stephanie Shults’ aunt, told the Herald-Leader that reports saying the couple had been found were untrue.
Stephanie’s mother, Carolyn Moore, is in Brussels and was told by the State Department that it did not have information indicating the couple had been found, Newsom said.
When contacted Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said information about the Shultses or confirmation that they had been found could not be released because of “privacy considerations.”
Stephanie Shults, 29, a graduate of Bryan Station High School and Transylvania University, and Justin, 30, have been missing since two explosions in a terminal of the Brussels airport, Newsom said Tuesday. The couple live in Belgium and were seeing off Stephanie’s mother at the terminal.
Sutton told NBC News late Tuesday that the State Department told him “the pair were not on any casualty list, and both their phones were going straight to voice mail.”
Mars Inc., the company for which Stephanie Shults works, said in a statement Wednesday that it had not been able to contact the couple.
The U.S. company, which has headquarters for some of its brands in Brussels, has been in touch with Shults’ mother, and some of her co-workers got an adapter for Moore’s cellphone charger so she could stay in contact with family, Newsom said.
Moore remained at a hotel near the airport, Newsom said. “They are keeping her at the hotel because that seems to be where the information is coming when they find people.”
Moore, Newsom’s sister, was in the airport preparing to leave Brussels after spending a week with her daughter and son-in-law.
Moore called her husband, Geary, “and said there had been an explosion and that it had knocked her down,” Newsom said. “She had not been able to find Stephanie and Justin.”
Justin Shults works for a company called Clarcor, and he often flies between the United States and Belgium. He and his wife are certified public accountants; they met while getting their master’s degrees at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
The Tennessean published a statement Wednesday that was released by U.S. Senator Bob Corker on behalf of the families of Justin and Stephanie Shults.
“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,” the families said in the statement.