Local man leaves Brussels just before attack

Posted at 4:24 AM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 04:47:07-04

A nine-hour flight from Belgium to Florida turned into nearly 24 hours of traveling for passengers due to security delays.

SPECIAL SECTION: Terror in Brussels

Jensen Beach resident Jim Samuel was on a flight from Brussels to Orlando Sanford International Airport when Tuesday's attacked occurred. 

He says while in the air, passengers were told nothing about the terror attacks in Brussels. The plane left within minutes of the bombings.

According to Samuel, the pilot announced there had been a security issue once the plane landed. Samuel says he didn't find out the specifics of the attack until he turned his phone on.

"I called my wife to say, 'We're here. Where are you?' Samuel said. "And she said, 'Did you know what happened, what transpired in Brussels?'I said not at all."

Samuel was traveling with his long-time friend, Walter Dierickx, who is a Belgian native and lives about 20 minutes outside of Brussels.

Samuel was released from security about an hour after the plane landed, but Dierickx wasn't allowed out of the airport for about 3.5 hours because he's not an American citizen.

Dierickx said he didn't mind the wait, just happy to be alive.

"Maybe one hour later, an hour later flight, and maybe we are not in the world anymore," Dierickx said.

The men got back to Jensen Beach at around 8 p.m. Tuesday. They say it wasn't until they turned on the news that the tragedy really sunk in.