SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Family and friends are grieving two days after Gatlinburg native Justin Shults and his wife Stephanie were confirmed dead in the bombings in Brussels. The pair was missing for several days. Justin Shults’ family confirmed Saturday they were both killed.
“For someone so young, it’s good to sit back and look at the good beause there is so much good in them,” said Elaine Wilson, a family friend and former teacher of Justin Shults.
For more than 20 years, Wilson has watched students come and go in her Sevier County classrooms. Few stood out at Gatlinburg Pittman High School like Justin Shults.
“He was very outgoing. But what stood out with him, he helped others,” she said.
Shults graduated from Gatlinburg Pittman in 2004. He was friends with Wilson’s daughter and their families quickly became friends as well.
“They would come here at least once a year through high school and all through college and they would camp out,” Wilson said.
Justin and Stephanie Shults married in 2011, then moved to Brussels in 2014.
“One thing also that stands out to me is the love that they had for each other, I have never seen, and everyone longs for it,” said Wilson.
The news of the bombings hit hard. The Shultses were dropping Stephanie Shults’s mother off at the Brussels airport when the bombs went off.
Family and friends spent days praying for a safe return. They were told Wednesday the couple was alive in a hospital, only to be told a few hours later that was a miscommunication and they were still missing.
“That was the point I think when we realized that maybe they weren’t coming home,” Wilson said.
On Saturday, their worst fears became reality when family members overseas confirmed the couple had been killed in the blasts.
“Hard to believe it’s someone from here. We always look on the news and it’s somewhere else and we can turn the TV off and it’s gone, but this isn’t gone,” Wilson said.
As they grieve they are taking comfort in one thing.
“They’re together. We all believe that. We all know that for a fact. They’re in heaven and happy,” Wilson said.
Friends and family are still asking for prayers. Justin Shults’ mother and Stephanie Shults’ parents are all still in Brussels.