Troy traveler: Close call with deadly bombings in Brussels

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Samantha Kitchens was supposed to be in Brussels on Tuesday.

The Troy native is spending the week in Europe with friends and is staying in Rotterdam. She had purchased a train ticket for a daylong solo excursion to Brussels on Tuesday, with plans of exploring the city for several hours before returning to the Netherlands.

But the veteran traveler was unusually anxious, scared even, about traveling by herself. “My anxiety was through the roof,” she said. “I cried on the phone to my mom because I was so scared to go.”

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So she decided to forgo the trip, praying for peace about the decision and chalking the cost of the train tickets up to wasted money.

“When Hallie (my friend) woke me up this morning all of her friends were texting her asking if I was OK because they knew I was supposed to go today … I almost started crying,” Kitchens said.

As details of the terrorist attacks in Brussels unfolded, Kitchens said she realized just how close she was to being in the midst of the deadly attacks.

“The first bomb apparently went off about 10 minutes after I was scheduled to arrive in Brussels,” she said. “The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!”

Officials said 34 people were killed and dozens were injured in bombings in airport and subway bombings in Brussels early Tuesday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in the capital of the European Union.

Kitchens wasn’t the only Pike County resident in Europe. A group of nearly 40 travelers are on a 10-day trip with Pam Smith.

“We are doing fine,” said Alyson Gramley. “We found out this morning while in Paris. We are in Normandy now … we’ll spend two days here then fly out from Paris early on Friday. So far no changes.!”

And while the Pike County travelers are safe, they too are reeling from the shock and fear of the attacks.

“People are worrying about the fact that Belgium borders the Netherlands,” Kitchens said. “If we would have still been in Paris, our bus probably would have gotten cancelled because it went through Belgium both times!”

And, she said, even a casual stroll outside shows evidence of heightened security measures. “I went to the market earlier and there were several police around it,” she said.