Belgium bombing touches Raleigh family

The terrorist bombings in Brussels this week killed 31 people and injured hundreds. It also touched the lives of a Raleigh family.

Alexander Pinczowski, 29, a Dutch national killed Tuesday in the Brussels airport bombings, was engaged to Cameron Cain, the daughter of Jim Cain, a former U.S. ambassador to Denmark and a Raleigh attorney. Pinczowski’s sister, Sascha, also died in the airport explosions.

Jim Cain said Friday that his daughter and Alex Pinczowski met 5 1/2 years ago in Durham and planned to be married within a year.

“As an ambassador you’re trained, briefed, on handling terrorist crisis situations,” Cain said Friday during an interview from Brussels. “But you never, ever conceive of something like this happening to your daughter, your family.

“Our family had a wonderful relationship with Alex. He was an incredibly bright young man, incredibly well-read, with a photographic memory. He’d engage me in debates about international affairs and at first I would almost be offended that he thought he knew more than I did. I learned he did. He was a brilliant young man.”

Alex and Sascha Pinczowski were scheduled to fly to New York on Tuesday and were in a ticket line at the airport in Belgium, Cain said. There also was an explosion at a Brussels subway station – bombings planned and carried out by ISIS terrorists.

Cain said he was in New York and first saw reports of the bombings on television. He said he soon received a text from Cameron saying, “Alex and Sascha are in the airport.”

“I called Alex’s mother and she said she had been talking to him when the phone sounded like it went under water and then went dead,” Cain said.

Cameron Cain posted on Twitter about her concerns for the safety of her fiance and his sister in two separate tweets:

“Please help find my boyfriend and his sister Alex Pinczowski Sascha Pinczowski”

“My bf & his sis are still missing since this morning. They were in the departure hall at time. Please help”

Jim Cain received confirmation Friday from the Dutch embassy that there had been positive identifications of the remains of Alexander and Sascha Pinczowski. Funeral services for the siblings are being planned in Maastricht, the Netherlands, he said.

Cain said Alex and Cameron, 25, first met while taking some summer courses in Durham and had planned to open a small business, either in New York or Maastricht.

“He and Cameron came up with a business plan,” Cain said. “To be honest, I think he had a dream to one day settle down on a family farm in North Carolina. He loved North Carolina.”

Cain, 58, who served as president and chief operating officer of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2000 to 2002, said Alex enjoyed attending Hurricanes games when in Raleigh.

“Huge Canes fan,” Cain said. “He and Cameron would always want to drag me to the games. He didn’t grow up with hockey but loved the sport.”

Alex and Sascha Pinczowski planned to apply for U.S. citizenship, Cain said. Sascha, 26, was a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College.

Alex Pinczowski was returning to the U.S. so he and Cameron could attend a wedding in North Carolina, Cain said.

“It all very sad, very tragic,” he said.

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip