Belgian who started Akron Co. reacts to terror

Posted at 2:23 PM, Mar 22, 2016

When news broke of the terrorist attacks in Belgium, Mathias Ellegiers became immediately concerned about the well being of his sister who had taken a train into Brussels to attend music school.

Through text messaging, Ellegiers learned his younger sibling was safe.

"She's in school. She's locked in school for her own safety so she's not allowed to leave," Ellegiers said.

Ellegiers spoke with via Skype from Belgium and explained that close friends of his had a much closer call when bombs exploded at the airport.

"They heard the bombs. They saw the bombs. They saw elevators come down, but they themselves were not hurt."

Ellegiers has ties to Northeast Ohio. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University and is the co-founder of an Akron startup business which makes stand-up desks.

Ellegiers teamed up with girlfriend, Daphne Fecheyr-Lippens, to create Jaswig, which has operations based out of both Akron and Belgium.

Fecheyr-Lippens is a PhD student at the University of Akron.

The couple was in the city of Ghent-- about 40 minutes from Brussels-- when the terrorist attacks happened Tuesday morning.

"Belgians just don't really know how to react or how to respond to this," Ellegiers said. "We have people from the army walking the streets and the airports because of the attacks in France, but it clearly doesn't help."

Ellegiers said that trains and other public transportation are shut down in Belgium and people have been advised to stay out of Brussels due to traffic jams out of the city.

He said Belgians will not live in fear, but instead, rally around each other.

"We'll try to go on with our lives and we should try to address this issue at its core, and see if we can actually sustainably figure something out instead of just adding more people to the army."