LONDON — The two text messages David Dixon sent on his way to work in Brussels Tuesday morning — one to his long-time partner and another to his aunt — reassured the jittery women.
He told his aunt in England, who had just heard the news of the airport explosions, that he was “safe and fine.” He told his partner, the mother of their 7-year-old son, that the trains were running normally.
And then came the deafening silence.
Dixon, 51, a British IT contractor working in Brussels for a financial services company, hasn’t been heard from since.
“He texted me before 9 a.m. and I asked him if his train had been canceled and he said it was running fine,” his long-time partner, Charlotte Sutcliffe, 43, told the London Times.
She told the newspaper that Dixon had a choice of one or two Metro lines for his daily Brussels commute to his office at the Euroclear company.
“He obviously took the train with the bomb, otherwise he would have got to his office,” she said.
His aunt, from Hartlepool, England where Dixon is also from, said she was the one who informed her nephew of the devastating terrorist attack at Brussels airport.
“As soon as I heard on the news about the explosion at the airport I thought of David and I texted him to ask whether he was all right,” Ann Dixon told the Telegraph newspaper.
“It was a relief when he texted back soon afterwards and said he was safe and fine,” she said. “He said he hadn’t even realized that there had been bombs going off at the airport. It was only an hour later that (the other bomb) went off.”
Terrorists first attacked Brussels’ international airport and then a station in the city’s Metro system less than an hour and a half later.
Sutcliffe spent the first day after the worst attacks to hit Belgium since World War II frantically going from hospital to hospital in the Belgian capital in a desperate search for the father of her young son.
“I have given the police all the details they need, the clothes he was wearing, his medical history, his dental records, so they can identify him if he is alive or dead,” Sutcliffe told the Times.
“When I call the hospitals, they say they do not have any unidentified patients but the police tell me there are unidentified patients in hospitals across the country,” she was quoted by the paper as saying.
Sutcliffe is still hoping that Dixon, with whom she moved to Brussels for work several years ago, may be among the injured yet to regain consciousness, she told the paper.
The Belgian health ministry has said there are a few unidentified people in comas in Brussels hospitals. Dozens of injured people remained in intensive care two days after the attacks that killed at least 31 people and left some 300 other s injured. Belgian authorities have warned the death toll could rise.
“I keep hoping he will answer his telephone,” she told the Times. “I am still hopeful I will find him. He is such a very funny guy, a tremendous sense of humor, and so very clever.”
“I just want him to come home.”