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A gap-toothed little boy, a sunny woman: Victims in Boston

April 16, 2013|By Alana Semuels, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Andrew Tangel

BOSTON -- Eight-year-old Martin Richard was a bright, sunny boy who loved to ride his bike and went “wild” when he played offense on his soccer team, scoring the winning goal in a championship game last year.

Krystle Campbell was the vivacious assistant manager of local steakhouse, the first to backstop fellow workers by running plates from the kitchen. She could instantly smooth over diners’ complaints with her smile.

They were both cheering on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon on Monday when two bombs went off with a thunderous boom and cloud of white smoke, claiming them as the first victims of the blast. Boston University officials confirmed the death of a third person Tuesday: a graduate student who has not been identified.

Friends and family members of the victims were still in shock after Monday’s chaos. Martin’s father, Bill Richard, who was tending to his wife and 6-year-old daughter, who were injured in the blast, released a statement thanking strangers for their prayers.

“We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” he said.

Campbell's mother, Patty, emerged briefly on the front steps of her family’s modest two-story home in Medford.

“We are heartbroken at the death of our daughter,” Campbell told reporters, her voice shaking between sobs. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

As federal investigators chased leads in the effort to find the perpetrators, doctors at Boston’s trauma centers tended to the more than 170 people wounded in the explosions, many of whom have been released. Dr. George Velmahos, the leader of the trauma team at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that although many of its surgeons trained on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, they were confounded by the severity of the injuries they confronted as waves of patients arrived at the emergency rooms Monday.

Some of the patients were in surgery for hours as doctors tried to remove metal fragments, spiky metal pieces that looked like nails without heads, and pellets that had shredded their limbs. But the positive outlook of many of them left Velmahos “moved and really amazed.”

“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 the relatives and friends who kept watch at Mass General was 39-year-old Corey Comeau, who was visiting his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend Tuesday afternoon.
Comeau, a chef at Stephanie’s restaurant on Newbury Street, near what is now a crime scene, said his cousin was “still a little shellshocked” 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. The staff has been unbelievable,” he said.

At the same time, Monday’s chaos bred confusion, as in the case of Krystle Campbell.

Campbell had been watching the marathon alongside her friend Karen, her grandmother Lillian Campbell said, and the family at first believed that she had survived with serious injuries to her legs. But the family learned Tuesday morning that it was Karen who lived.

Lillian Campbell said her granddaughter stopped by her house for the last time last Thursday afternoon, when they drank tea and talked for several hours about work, friends and life.

“She loved being around people. She loved doing things for people,” said Lillian Campbell, 79, who noted that her granddaughter moved in to take care of her after she underwent surgery a few years ago. “She was hard worker. She was bubbly all the time.”

Nick Miminos, who had recently hired Campbell as an assistant manager at Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington, Mass., said the 29-year-old “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.”

Not far away in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, neighbors and friends of the Richard family grieved at a candlelight vigil for young Martin. Bill Richard had been a force in restoring the historic neighborhood. His wife, Denise, who suffered critical injuries Monday, was a librarian at the Neighborhood House Charter School, where Martin and his 6-year-old sister, Jane, were enrolled.

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