Gilbert couple in Brussels airport during attack

Posted at 6:49 AM, Mar 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 21:54:32-04

A Gilbert couple is safe after witnessing the terror attacks at the Brussels airport in Belgium.

Denise and Andrew Brandt recently relocated from Gilbert to Liberia, where Denise is the country director for Jhpiego, a global health organization. 

The couple was traveling for work from Thailand to Liberia and had a layover in Brussels, landing only an hour before the explosion. 

"We were in a shop, made a purchase, walked out when we heard and felt the explosion," Denise Brand said.

With a calm voice, Brandt explained the chaos around her.

"We started to see people running, running towards us, away from something. Some people were crying," Brandt said. 

She has strong ties to the Valley, having graduated from ASU and taught there recently. 

Her husband, a former Glendale police officer, wanted to run toward the explosion.

"He has this instinct to be a first responder, and I have the opposite instinct of staying alive and safe," Brandt said. 

She said there was a lot of confusion as people were told to evacuate but weren't told were to go and and what was happening. 

She and her husband, along with thousands of others, were then shuttled away from the airport to safety.

The couple caught only a glimpse of the horror.

"It looked like he had a piece of glass stuck in his leg, and it was bloody, and we did see a bunch of ambulances coming in and later getting loaded on to the gurneys," Brandt said. 

It wasn't until they were at a hotel about 10 miles from Brussels that they realized the magnitude of the attack.

"Feeling very, very lucky and safe and blessed to be okay, especially when so many people were not," Brandt said.