Huntersville friends caught in Brussels airport chaos

Two lifelong friends from Huntersville are safe after explosions went off about 100 feet in front of them at the Brussels airport Tuesday.

Tanner Dorman and Anna Schaeffer were preparing to board the first leg of their return trip to Charlotte after a 10-day European vacation when explosions went off at the airport, said Dorman’s mother, Cindy.

Cindy Dorman said her son and Schaeffer were uninjured. After the explosions, they and other passengers were taken to a secure building at the airport and were waiting for buses to take them out, Cindy Dorman said. “They’re OK; they’re scared,” she said.

Cindy Dorman, a sales rep at Lake Norman Publications, said she was asleep when her son texted a series of messages to her about 3 a.m. Tuesday.

“Mom, please wake up and get this message,” one read. “There are bombs going off. We don’t know what to do.”

Cindy Dorman said her son lost his cellphone in the resulting chaos after the bombs went off and was using his iPad and Schaeffer’s phone to reach her.

“He was hunched in a corner texting me,” Cindy Dorman said.

Cindy Dorman said she happened to wake up at 4 a.m. The TV was still on and showing reports of the explosions that rocked the Brussels airport and subway system.

Tanner Dorman and Schaeffer were waiting to board a flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, on the first leg of their trip back.

Tanner Dorman, 23, is a financial crimes specialist at a local bank. Schaeffer is an engineering student at UNC Charlotte.

Shortly before 6 a.m., Schaeffer posted this message on Facebook:

“Felt the explosion at the airport. We are together, safe and lucky to be alive. Keep us in your thoughts everybody! Gonna be a scary next couple of days.”

Both are 23 and were enjoying “their big trip to Europe,” which also included stays in Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Italy, Cindy Dorman said. “Today was the 11th day,” she said.

“I just wish there was somebody to get them out of there, get them home,” Cindy Dorman said. “You’re helpless. Nothing you can do.”

McClatchy Publishing Center digital specialist Josh Lanier contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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