Family: Gatlinburg,Tennessee man, wife still missing after Brussels attacks; given misinformation

Justin and Stephanie Shults' families still waiting on information

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.
From Left: Justin Shults, Sheila Shell, and Stephanie Shell. (Courtesy: WATE)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) –The family of a Gatlinburg man who went missing after Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels said they were mistakenly informed that the missing couple had been found.

Sheila Shell says she got a call from the State Department at around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, telling them Justin and Stephanie Shults had been found in a hospital with unknown injuries, but they didn’t know the severity of the injuries or which hospital they were in. Levi Sutton, Justin Shults’ brother shared the news on Facebook, then Shell said they received a call from a social worker in Belgium, who is with Stephanie Shults’ mom, that said the family was given incorrect information.

“We called Senator Corker’s office and we gave them the information that a social worker from Belgium had called me and asked me where I got my information from,” said Shell in a phone call with WATE 6 On Your Side. “I had told her I got a call from the state department and she said, ‘well that information is incorrect. They have not been found and they are not in any hospital that we have here.’”

Shell said they were heading to Atlanta to fly to Brussels on Thursday and the news was just devastating. She said she has been on an emotional roller coaster. The mother said both of the companies they work for had been searching for them as well.

“Being in a hospital with injuries made me hopeful that I’m going to go over there now and find them. Then, Of course I shared the news and it got shared and Levi is devastated. He is just devastated because he shared the news and he says it makes it look bad. I say honey, you were just telling what they you that they told me,” said the Gatlinburg mother.

The Gatlinburg mother said Wednesday she last heard from her son, a Gatlinburg-Pittman High School graduate, on Saturday when he left Nashville to head back to Brussels, where he lives with his wife Stephanie.

MORE: Married Vanderbilt graduates missing after Brussels attacks

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.

MORE: WKBN coverage of the attack in Brussels

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.

PHOTOS: Explosions rock Brussels airport, subway

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.”

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s