Martin Richard was a bright, sunny 8-year-old who loved to ride his bike and scored the winning goal for his soccer team in a championship game last year.
Krystle Campbell, 29, was the vivacious assistant manager of a steakhouse who could instantly smooth over diners’ complaints with her smile.
They were both cheering on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon Monday when two bombs went off, firing a blizzard of nails, ball bearings and tiny daggers of shrapnel into the flesh of runners and spectators.
The Dorchester boy and the Arlington woman were the first two confirmed dead in the attack, which injured more than 170 people. A third person killed has been identified as a Chinese citizen who attended Boston University as a graduate student.
For the Richard family, the toll was especially hideous. The boy and his family had just returned from an ice cream break and were cheering on runners when the first blast occurred nearby. They were unhurt, and scrambling to get past a barrier from the sidewalk to the street, when the second bomb went off seconds later.
A tree protected Martin’s older brother, Henry, but the blast severely injured the eye of his mother, Denise, and the leg of his 6-year-old sister, Jane, according to longtime family friend Stephen Lynch, a congressman.
“It’s so random, what happened,” Lynch said. “They were all right there.”
He said Martin’s father, Bill Richard, whose leg was penetrated by ball bearings, credited the quick arrival of paramedics with saving his daughter’s life.
“She’s still not out of the woods, in doctors’ words, but she’s got a chance,” Lynch said, adding that surgeons were still trying to decide whether they would need to amputate the girl’s leg.
Bill Richard released a statement thanking friends and strangers for their prayers.
“We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” he said.
On Tuesday night, in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, neighbors and friends of the family gathered at a candlelight vigil for young Martin. Bill Richard had been a force in restoring the historic neighborhood. His wife worked as a librarian at Neighborhood House Charter School, where Martin and Jane were enrolled.
“Losing one child is bad enough, having the other ones injured and your wife injured … ,” said a neighbor, Jane Sherman. “They are a wonderful family and this is a horrific tragedy. I think this is something they won’t recover from.”
It is a small community, where narrow streets lead to brightly colored single-family and two-family houses. “They’re your all-American family, with three kids, a mother, father,” Sherman said. “It just goes to show how not secure we are.”
Police had surrounded the Richard home with yellow tape by Tuesday morning. People came by to leave flowers and mementos. Twins Andres and Alejandro Calderon, 10, signed their names to a soccer ball and put it on the family’s porch. The boys recalled Martin hopping around the playground at recess and unleashing his energy on the soccer field.
“When we put him on defense and goalie he would do good, but he would save his energy so when we put him on offense he would go wild,” said Andres.
Other friends posted their memories of Martin on Facebook and Twitter. One photo depicted the smiling, gap-toothed boy holding a blue sign he had made with magic markers.
“No more hurting people,” his sign said. “Peace.”
In Medford, 10 miles to the north of Dorchester, anguish that marked the face of Patty Campbell, mother of victim Krystle, as she appeared briefly on the front steps of her family’s modest two-story home.
“We are heartbroken at the death of our daughter,” Campbell told reporters, her voice shaking between sobs. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
Campbell had been watching the marathon alongside her friend Karen, said her grandmother Lillian Campbell, and the family initially believed that she had survived with leg injuries. But they learned Tuesday morning that it was Karen who had lived.
Lillian Campbell said Krystle stopped by her house for the last time last week, when they drank tea and talked for several hours about work, friends, life.
“She loved being around people. She loved doing things for people,” said the grandmother, adding that Krystle had moved in to take care of her after a surgery a few years ago. “She was hard worker. She was bubbly all the time.”
Nick Miminos, who had recently hired Krystle as an assistant manager at Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington, Mass., said she “had one of those personalities that belongs in hospitality.”
“The wait staff loved working with her,” Miminos said. “She would run food for them, clear the tables for them. She wasn’t just a figurehead. She enjoyed getting her hands dirty.”
Dr. George Velmahos, the leader of the trauma team at Massachusetts General Hospital, which treated many of the victims, said surgeons were initially confounded by the injuries they saw in the emergency room Monday.In surgeries that lasted hours, doctors worked to remove metal fragments, spiky metal pieces that looked like headless nails, and pellets. In some cases, limbs had been “completely mangled, some hanging by a shred.”
Four patients had legs amputated, all above the knee, and more surgeries were planned Tuesday as surgeons attempted to save an amputee’s second leg, Velmahos said. He said he found himself “moved and really amazed” by the positive outlook of many victims.
“Some of them woke up today with no legs and told me they were just happy to be alive,” Velmahos said. “Some of them said they thought they were lucky.”
Among those keeping watching at Mass General was 39-year-old Corey Comeau, a local chef who was visiting his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend Tuesday afternoon.
Comeau said his cousin was “still a little shell shocked” but that his cousin’s 24-year-old girlfriend suffered worse injuries.
“They say they can save her leg,” Comeau said as he stood outside the hospital after visiting. “I can’t believe I’m even saying that. It’s not normal conversation.”
Still, he said, the mood inside the hospital was “much calmer today than last night” with doctors going from patient to patient and conferring with families.
“These are some of the best hospitals in the world,” he said.
By Alana Semuels, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Andrew Tangel - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
©2013 Los Angeles Times
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