BRUSSELS, March 28, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Elder Richard Norby, the LDS missionary hurt most seriously in the March 22 terror attack on the airport in Belgium, spent Easter with family members who reveled in even the slightest sign of his partial recovery.
Norby, 66 and from Lehi, was with two other France-Paris missionaries from Utah, dropping Sister Fanny Rachel Clain off at the airport for her United States mission from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When the first of the terrorist bombs went off that morning, Norby; Clain, 20, of Montélimar, France; Elder Mason Wells, 19, of Sandy; and Elder Joseph Dresden Empey, of Santa Clara, were all seriously injured by the blast, suffering burns and shrapnel wounds.
Norby was the only one to be put into a medically induced coma.
“… as the three of us gathered around his bed and began talking to him, he moved his head in a lethargic sort of way and included several attempts to open his eyes,” said an Easter post, shared on Facebook by someone who refers to Norby as “Dad.”
The unsigned entry was on a new page, Richard Norby’s Story, posted to keep friends and family apprised of Norby’s medical progress.
“His eyes have always been clear and hazel in color,” the Easter post continued. “Eyes that are kind, caring, and full of love. The eyes we saw this afternoon were the same but only partially open at times and cloudy from the effects of sedation and a whopper of a week.
“Today though, he tried, just a couple of times to keep them open longer than his body wanted to allow, partially open albeit, and he seemed to be trying to focus on who was in the room,” the post said.
“We praised him for his great efforts and nodded our heads to affirm he was looking at the right masked faces. Every once in a while, he would cough a gruff cough. Every once in a while he seemed vaguely cognizant of our talking. No words spoken, no attempts made. Just mildly aware of something outside of his sleepy self.”
The post also noted that Norby had been sedated earlier while his wounds were cleaned, something that happens about every two days, it said. Norby is getting extra oxygen from tubes near his nostrils, the post said.
The family attended an early church service at the LDS church where Norby and wife Pam Norby served as missionaries, the post said. Pam Norby had intended to join in the trip to the airport, but the car was full.
“When Dad called Mom immediately after the bombing, he told her he had a broken leg and some burns on his face,” said a post dated March 26.
“Reality was a left fibula, broken in three places, a fractured left calcaneus (heel), shrapnel wounds as big as 1-2-inches and localized to his back, hip, and legs with some to his neck. Second-degree burns to the backs of his hands, face, ears and sides of the head, and on the leg. A bit more involved than once thought.”
Richard Norby is wrapped in bandages, head to toe, the post said, except for his eyes and mouth. His left leg has an external metal brace, fixed to the bone with screws, the post said.
Pam Norby did an interview over the weekend with NBC News.
“I’ll take him with whatever,” she said. “I’m just glad he’s alive and I’m glad the missionaries are alive. That was enough, enough to comfort.”
Pam Norby said the fact that she was spared from the explosion seems like the first of several small miracles for which she is thankful. She added that said doctors told her the way her husband had been standing at the time of the blast, and the fact that the shrapnel hit him in the back, may have saved Richard Norby’s life.
“They said what a blessing it was that he didn’t turn totally around because all that would have hit his vital organs,” Pam Norby said. “So that in itself was another miracle.”