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Bombing victims, families share stories

By The Washington Post

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jacqui Webb has had three surgeries at Tufts Medical Center in Boston in the past week to repair damage to her leg and clean a wound where shrapnel ripped a hole through her right calf, her uncle said.

Both her hands, which were burned in the blast, are covered in bandages. Shrapnel is still lodged in different parts of her body, William Webb said. The partial hearing loss she suffered in the April 15 attack has abated on its own.

William Webb said his family is just grateful that "Peanut," as the family knows her, is alive and recovering.

They owe the credit, he said, to her boyfriend, Paul Norden, and his brother, J.P., who pushed Jacqui out of the way and onto the street when the second bomb exploded. Paul and J.P. Norden each lost a leg as a result of the blast.

"We're just very happy and proud that somebody did that for my niece," William Webb said. "As long as he lives, we are there for him. Whatever he needs."

William Webb said his niece, who has a twin sister, Janel, lives in Stoneham, Mass., her hometown, which is less than 10 miles north of Boston. Jacqui, a real estate agent, graduated from Stoneham High School and attended Suffolk University.

"She's just a sweetheart of a girl," her uncle said.

A huge Red Sox and Bruins fan, Jacqui loves to travel and spend time with her family and her boyfriend of 10 years, William Webb said.

Going to the Boston Marathon had almost become a family ritual. "She goes just about every year," William Webb said. "I used to go when we were kids." He said his parents were also in the crowd but were not injured.

Jacqui and her boyfriend were there to cheer on a friend. They stood near the finish line, not far from where 8-year-old Martin Richard was standing before he died, William Webb said.

"She loves life, and that's what these two guys tried to erase — people's lives," he said.

William Webb said he remains concerned about the toll the tragedy will take on his niece. "She's going to bounce back physically," he said. "But what is it going to be like for her and others emotionally?"

Space to heal

A week after the Boston Marathon, the Dorchester community gathered at a tall public clock in Peabody Square to support friends and neighbors grievously affected by the bombing attack near the finish line: the Richard family.

The vintage tower clock in the Boston neighborhood had been stopped for several days at 2:50 p.m. to mark the moment on April 15 that an explosion on Boylston Street killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and severely wounded his mother, Denise Richard, and little sister, Jane.

Martin's father and big brother, Bill and Henry Richard, escaped significant physical injury.

Last Monday afternoon, according to local news reports, the clock was restarted in a quiet public ceremony attended by scores of residents and public officials.

On Tuesday, private funeral and burial services were held for Martin.

"We laid our son Martin to rest, and he is now at peace," Bill and Denise Richard said in a statement.

The couple added: "The outpouring of love and support over the last week has been tremendous. This has been the most difficult week of our lives and we appreciate that our friends and family have given us space to grieve and heal."

There was no immediate information available on the medical condition of Denise and Jane Richard.

Jane Richard, 7, is a first-grader at the Neighborhood House Charter School, according to Bill Forry, managing editor of the Dorchester Reporter weekly newspaper, who knows the family. Martin was a third-grader at the school, Forry said, and Denise Richard is a librarian there.

Forry said the mother is a native of Dorchester and a civic leader. "A very eager, energetic person who's always out on the streets," he said. "She would walk the kids everywhere. Very invested in Dorchester as a citizen, as a mom."

Friends who live near the Richard family told stories of singing Irish songs with them in their kitchen late into the night, of the entire family pitching in for every volunteer effort — decorating the float for the Dorchester Day Parade, helping at the neighborhood chili cook-off, and collecting trash in the annual Boston Shines cleanup project.

The family's church, St. Ann Parish Neponset in Dorchester, was filled for an emotional service April 21, the Boston Globe reported.

"We also pray for immediate healing from Denise's and Jane's physical injuries," the church said in a statement on its Web site. "We can only imagine the suffering that the Richard family carries today, as a result of the Boston Marathon tragedy, will be with them each day of their lives."

Loved one unaware

Benjamin Coutu was watching TV footage of the Boston Marathon bombings when he did a double take. Was that his good friend's younger brother, Kevin White, being carted away by paramedics?

"I waited by the TV to see it again," Coutu said. "I'm like, 'Man, I think it is.' "

Coutu had not seen White in a decade; he had been closer with Andrew White, Kevin's older brother. As he watched and re-watched the footage, he thought to himself: "Maybe I'm making too much of it. Maybe I want to personalize." He got out his camera anyway, snapped a photo of the screen, and sent it to Andrew.

In Portland, Ore., Andrew's phone was "buzzing constantly," Coutu said. The clinical psychologist was in a session, not knowing what had happened on the East Coast, not knowing that his mother, father and brother had been seriously wounded in a bombing, Coutu said.

"Apparently, it was Kevin trying to get through," Coutu said.

By that evening, Coutu said, Andrew was on a plane to Boston to be with his family members.

Their injuries, Coutu said, were serious. Kevin White had trauma to his abdomen and several hairline fractures; he was released from the hospital April 17, Coutu said.

Kevin and Andrew's mother, Mary Jo White, had a seriously wounded hand and was discharged April 19, Coutu said.

And Kevin and Andrew's father, Bill White, remains hospitalized after being transferred out of intensive care last week. One of his legs was severed below the knee, Coutu said.

Kevin, Mary Jo and Bill did not know anyone running in the marathon, Coutu said, but they decided to grab lunch in Boston and watch the race.

Coutu, 38, of Fitchburg, Mass., said he spent time with Andrew White — a classmate from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass. — on the night authorities apprehended the second suspect.

They hugged and reflected on the culmination of a "crazy week."

"There's such a relief, and honestly the best part was seeing the cheering crowds in Watertown on TV," Coutu said. "We were just both happy that he was caught, not just for safety but for the morale of everyone watching."

'Where's Liza'

"Marathon Monday is pretty amazing to witness," Liza Cherney tweeted on Patriot's Day 2012 as she witnessed her first Boston Marathon.

Cherney, a native of Novato, Calif., returned to Boylston Street this year to cheer on fellow Boston College business school classmate Meaghan Zipin, who was running to raise money for charity.

Brittany Loring, another Boston College MBA candidate and Cherney's best friend, joined her. They hail from opposite sides of the country, but after meeting two years ago they learned that they shared a love of running, the same birthday month — April — and an overachieving streak. Loring is pursuing a dual law and business degree. Cherney is on her second graduate degree, having already earned a master's in gerontology. They are slated to graduate in three weeks.

The day of the marathon, they had been tracking Zipin's progress and made it to the finish line in time to blow their friend kisses. Then came a deafening explosion as the first bomb went off.

In the chaos that followed, emergency workers took Cherney and Loring to separate hospitals. Loring ended up at Boston Medical Center, and Cherney was taken to Beth Israel. Both had been blitzed with BBs, nails and other shrapnel that had been packed inside the bomb.

"Where is Liza?" Loring kept asking, her father Dan Loring recalled. In the days that followed, the friends eventually were able to connect by phone, including Tuesday when Loring called to wish Cherney a happy birthday. Loring's birthday was the day of the attack. Both women turned 29.

Friends who have visited Cherney said she is expected to make a full recovery and was in good spirits. Her family, who flew from California to be at her side, declined to be interviewed.

She and Loring were supposed to celebrate their birthdays together the Saturday after the race. Although it's delayed, the friends say, the date is one they plan to keep.

'I am blessed'

He's a carpenter and skillful pool player whose hands are wrapped in bandages to cover the burns and shrapnel injuries. The legs are bandaged, too.

And Jarrod Clowery, 35, needs to remind callers to speak up if they want to know about what he experienced as he stood in the Boston Marathon crowds closest to the second explosion. His hearing is down to about 15 percent in one ear and only "moderately good" in the other, he said.

But, he said, more than once: "I am blessed."

Three of Clowery's buddies who were with him each lost limbs in the bombings, Clowery said Monday from his bed at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, ticking off their names: two brothers and their friend. "Get that down. I am blessed."

Clowery was raised in Stoneham, Mass., a town nine miles north of Boston. Recently living in Rhode Island, he was at the marathon to cheer on an acquaintance — and to be cheered up himself after a long winter with little work.

They heard the first explosion, and Clowery shouted at his friends to hop the metal fencing. He got both of his hands onto the railing, but before they all could clamber over, another bomb went off. Clowery believes he already was in the air, clearing the metal guardrail, when the explosion hit, which may have saved his legs. His friends still were grounded. "They're all big guys," he said. "I think they spared some other people when they took that impact."

Newlyweds reunited

Marathoner Jac Folkert felt so good at Mile 18 that when she saw her cheering husband, she ran to him, kissed him and said, "I'll see you in eight miles."

It didn't quite turn out that way. Married in January, the newlywed couple from Redondo Beach, Calif., both 42, narrowly escaped tragedy at Folkert's 40th marathon, her sixth in Boston.

Darrel "D" Folkert rode a train to the finish line. He chose a spot on Boylston Street, close to a restaurant and a Starbucks. After the first blast, somebody suggested they move into the street. But the second device detonated.

Folkert's eardrums were ruptured, his lower legs were burned and bleeding, his black running pants shredded.

"I didn't realize my clothes were still smoldering and on fire until I got across the street," he said.

Bystanders helped him, and an ambulance took him to a hospital. He lost his cellphone.

"Just not knowing where my wife was really hard over the next couple of hours," he said.

Jac Folkert was about to turn onto Boylston Street when she heard two bangs and then sirens. Emergency workers pushed runners back. When she finally got to her backpack and phone, her heart dropped.

"There were more messages than I could imagine — phone calls, texts, voice mails. . . . None were from him," she said. She tried him. No answer.

D's sister called. He was at Brigham and Women's Hospital. She raced there, still in her white visor and racing bib with the number 20617.

"Seeing her come around the corner was the best thing I could ask for," D Folkert said.

Trying to understand

Denise Spenard always loved the end of the Boston Marathon: Having run an eight-mile race the day before this year's, she knew just how hard the runners had to train.

Spenard, 46, of Manchester N.H., was watching the race from the outdoor patio at Atlantic Fish, cheering on friends, when she heard an explosion that sounded like a cannon. "Oh my God, was that real?" she asked her friends. She saw smoke rising. Then she felt a sharp pain in her side.

Spenard was thrown to the ground, then crawled with her friends into the restaurant. Once inside, she lifted up her sweatshirt and saw a clean hole in her side, surrounded by blood. She remembers thinking she had been shot.

A woman came inside the restaurant, telling everyone: "You don't want to go out there." Spenard raced out the back door, and a friend used a scarf to bandage her. They ran down the street, trying in vain to find a taxi, when a stranger approached a car and told the driver, "Please take her to the hospital."

The doctors at Massachusetts General told Spenard she had a piece of shrapnel in her side. "My injuries are going to heal, but that fear we were being shot at — that's what's in my mind the most," she said.

She has been struggling since to make sense of the tumult.

"I'm numb. I don't know what to feel, because I'm not feeling anything," said Spenard, who went back to work Monday to return to some semblance of normalcy. "I was one of the first lucky ones. . . . I get to run. I didn't lose my legs."

Officer doing well

The Boston Marathon has always been part of Donohue family lore, even back when the family name was more Italian than Irish. In 1899, Larry Brignolia became the first Massachusetts winner, finishing at the now glacial pace of 2 hours 54 minutes 38 seconds.

On April 15, Brignolia's grandson — the family has lost count of how many "greats" precede the title — was there, too. He was a protector, not a participant. But Richard "Dic" Donohue's actions and sacrifice as an officer will put his name beside his relative's in the annals of the event.

Donohue, 33, is an officer with the Metropolitan Bay Transportation Authority. He was four miles from the explosions, but he was one of many officers to confront the suspected attackers early Friday in the Boston suburb of Watertown. He was seriously wounded by a bullet that severed two branches of a femoral artery in his right leg.

At Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, doctors said Donohue's heart stopped beating and took 45 minutes to steady.

Last Sunday, he squeezed his wife's hand on command for the first time. On Monday, his breathing tube was removed and he muttered his first words, asking for his 6-month-old son.

"He's doing really well," said Donohue's 32-year-old brother, Edward, a police officer in the family's home town of Winchester, Mass.

Richard Donohue followed Edward to the Virginia Military Institute, then joined the Navy.

His brother once teased him that he would never see action as a transit cop. "But there he is jumping into the midst of a gunfight in Watertown and making Transit very proud, and making our entire family, and I assume our entire state and country, very proud," Edward Donohue said.


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