At 2:50pm EST, the first of two bombs exploded amongst a crowd watching the Boston Marathon finish line. Minutes before the explosion, Suspect #1, now known to be 26 year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, dropped a backpack containing the bomb almost directly at the feet of Jeff Bauman, Jr. He then looked Jeff directly in the eye, and walked away. The bomb exploded, destroying both of Jeff’s legs below the knee.
Costa Rican-born Carlos Arredondo had been handing out American flags to runners as they passed by when the bombs went off. Carlos had become a widely-known anti-war activist after his first son had died while on a second tour in Iraq. Seven years later, in December of 2011, Carlos’ other son committed suicide, marking the end of a long battle with depression and drug abuse after the death of his brother. Carlos was attending the Boston Marathon in order to cheer on runners who were running in memory of his two sons.
In a moment of horror, the lives of Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo intersected and become forever-more entwined.
When the bomb went off, Carlos, like many others whose names we don’t know, ran towards the mayhem rather than away from it. He found Jeff almost immediately—legs blown off, shirt on fire, laying in his own blood. Carlos put out the fire, tied a shirt around what was left of one of Bauman’s legs, pinched closed his exposed femoral artery, and remained with him until the EMTs were able to take him to the hospital. Carlos, despite his own personal trauma, placed himself in potential danger for the sake of others.
And he saved the life of Jeff Bauman, Jr.
Hours later, Bauman had made it through two surgeries. Heavily drugged, barely able to maintain consciousness, Jeff asked for a pen and paper. He wrote,
bag, saw the guy, looked right at me. As he continued to receive treatment, Jeff was able to give the FBI a description of the bomber and positively ID him in a photograph. The authorities now had a face. They requested that anyone who had video or photos from the day of the race to send them in to the FBI. Thousands responded, and soon, they were able to ID a second suspect.
On the night that I write this, Friday, April 19th, Suspect #2 has been taken into custody. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, is the younger brother of Tamerlan, who had died almost 24 hours earlier in a shoot-out with the cops. The iconic words came not in a speech, but in a tweet from the Boston Police Department,
Suspect in custody. Later,
CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.
— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 20, 2013
Every person involved with helping others has denied being a hero. The beauty of truth is that it remains true even when you don’t believe it. Admist the horror, heroes arose. One of those heroes is named Carlos Arredondo, who ran towards destruction and saved someone’s life. Another of those heroes is named Jeff Bauman, Jr.—the life that Carlos saved and who was able to give the authorities the information they needed to bring the case to a close. And then, of course, there are the FBI agents and the Boston Police Department, who if asked, simply did their job. These are just some of the many, most of whom remain unnamed to us the general public. Those who cradled strangers, tore off clothing to make tourniquets, and picked up limbs.
There was horror that day, but there were also heroes.
Boston Marathon Victim Jeff Bauman Helped Identify Bombers (The Daily Telegraph).
Image Credit: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg