French-American Béatrice Lasnier de Lavalette, 24, now uses a wheelchair after surviving a coma, months in intensive care and 30 operations, including skin grafts on her hands, legs and shoulders.
She was 17 years old on March 22, 2016 and was preparing to take her family’s flight across the Atlantic when there was a double suicide bombing at Zaventem airport near the Belgian capital.
16 people died in this attack, a toll that doubled an hour later when another explosion took place in the Brussels metro.
In total, more than three hundred people were injured in these attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
Nine people are being tested in Brussels. The tenth suspect, who may have died in Syria, is proven in absentia.
“I don’t remember the explosions, I only remember the darkness, and seeing myself thrown from the ground,” declared the young knight before the court by virtue of the explosion.
“Then I saw my leg forming a right angle, and I understood what was going to happen,” he added.
Béatrice Lasnier de Lavalette, badly burned on both legs, saw several rescuers tending to the wounded around her. When he ignored her, he had to cry for help.
Later he realized that he had not been there before. “They made me red, they didn’t think I would survive,” he explained between sobs.
Unaware of the time spent at the airport, he said he only “woke up after a month in a coma in the hospital”.
“I couldn’t imagine what happened, I was 17 years old and my life was over.”
At the time of the attack, Lasnier de Lavalette was in his penultimate year of high school in Belgium. The rider saw his future in professional riding from an early age.
Having both legs amputated below the knee, he had to undergo intense rehabilitation to regain his musculature, and after a series of surgeries, a period of depression and the setbacks of the pandemic, he joined the American equestrian team in 2021. This year he made it his goal to represent the United States at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The trial for the 2016 attacks, which opened at the beginning of December, is the largest ever held before a criminal court in Belgium.
Among the main suspects is Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, previously convicted for his role in the Paris attacks of November 2015, in which 130 people died.
There followed four weeks of testimony from survivors and relatives of the victims. The process will last until June.