Belgium attacks hit close to home for former UNL athlete

Posted by: Laura Wilson

LINCOLN–A former UNL athlete is dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday morning’s deadly attacks in Belgium.

Brandon Ubel plays professional basketball in Brussels, the site of the explosions.

The shocking news was announced just after he arrived at basketball practice Tuesday morning—deadly explosions at the Brussels International Airport, followed by another explosion at a city metro station.

"The airport is a five minute drive away [from home].  I’ve been there I don’t know how many times,” Ubel said in Skype interview Tuesday.

“Me and my family were on the metro just the day before.  So it makes it hit a little bit closer to home when it’s places you’ve been,” Ubel added.

And what hit even more close to home for him—the fact that his sister and brother-in-law were in Brussels, visiting him, during the time of the attacks.

“First thing that came across my mind was make sure they’re okay and not leaving the house.  I immediately got my phone, texted her, and made sure they weren’t going on any public transportation or anything like that,” Ubel recalled.

Fortunately, both of them are okay.

This is Ubel’s third season playing professional basketball in Belgium… and his second year living in Brussels—a city he says is now very tense.

"Everybody is a little bit hesitant right now.  I wouldn’t say panicked, but it’s kind of just wait and see.  Nobody’s really going to go too far from their houses,” said Ubel.

Ubel says friends and family have been reaching out all day.  And despite his proximity to the attacks, he has assured everyone he is safe.

"It’s obviously scary stuff, but it’s nothing that would personally discourage me from doing anything in the future.  Hopefully it never happens again, but I feel comfortable and there’s no hesitation for me.”

UNL officials say they don’t have any students studying abroad in Belgium right now.  However, one of their students, who is studying abroad in Italy—Carly Jensen—was vacationing in Brussels for spring break.

We have confirmed she was not injured and is safe.