BOSTON – Third-grader Martin Richard had just gotten ice cream and was near the Boston Marathon finish line, eagerly watching for friends to run by. Krystle Campbell was enjoying the race with her best friend, hoping to get a photo of the other woman’s boyfriend after he conquered the last mile.
Then the unthinkable struck. The spirited 8-year-old, pictured on Facebook in his classroom holding a sign that read “No more hurting people,” was dead, along with the outgoing 29-year-old woman and a graduate student from China – victims of twin bombs that turned a scene of celebration into chaos.
More than 170 others suffered wounds that included severed limbs, shrapnel damage, broken bones and head trauma.
Jeff Bauman Jr., a man pictured in an Associated Press photo being rushed from the scene Monday in a wheelchair, lost both legs. Rescuers took the 27-year-old to Boston Medical Center, where doctors found extensive vascular and bone damage.
“Unfortunately, my son was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” his father, Jeff Bauman, wrote in a Facebook post.
The younger Bauman, who had been at the race to cheer on his girlfriend, had further surgery because of fluid in his abdomen.
“I just can’t explain what’s wrong with people today, to do this to people,” the father wrote. “I’m really starting to lose faith in our country.”
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 thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” he said.
While mourning the dead Tuesday, friends and neighbors tried to focus on positive memories of cherished ones whose deaths still seemed unreal to them.
“I just can’t get a handle on it,” said Jack Cunningham, a longtime friend of little Martin and his family. “In an instant, life changes.”
Cunningham recalled how, as a pint-size preschooler, the boy had insisted on getting out of his stroller during a 5K race in South Boston. As soon as his mom let him out to run with the rest of the family, Martin took off along the rainy racecourse.
“He was just having a ball, splashing in every puddle,” Cunningham said.
Tuesday, a candle burned on the stoop of the family’s single-family home in the city’s Dorchester section, and the word “Peace” was written in chalk on the front walkway. A child’s bicycle helmet lay overturned near the front lawn.
At a nearby park, “Pray for Martin” was written in large block letters on the pavement.
Next-door neighbor Betty Delorey said Martin loved to climb trees and play sports with his brother and sister and the other children in the neighborhood.
“I can just remember his mother calling him ‘Martin!’ if he was doing something wrong,” the 80-year-old said. “Just a vivacious little kid.”
A photo of the three Richard children on Halloween in 2009 showed a smiling Martin dressed as Woody from the “Toy Story” films, complete with cowboy hat and sheriff’s badge. Beside him stood Jane, dressed as the film character Jesse, and Henry, dressed as Harry Potter.
“He had that million-dollar smile and you never knew what was going to come out of him,” said Judy Tuttle, a family friend. “Denise is the most spectacular mother that you’ve ever met, and Bill is a pillar of the community. It doesn’t get any better than these people.”
She recalled having tea recently with Denise Richard, a librarian at the children’s elementary school, while Martin did his homework.
“What a gift,” Tuttle said of Martin. “To know him was to love him.”
Kevin Andrews, headmaster at the Neighborhood House Charter School, said the school community was heartbroken by the loss of the third-grader, whom he called “a bright, energetic young boy who had big dreams and high hopes for his future.”
The third person killed in the Boston was identified as Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University originally from China’s northeastern city of Shenyang, a state-run Chinese newspaper reported Wednesday. The university said she was watching the race with friends at the finish line, which is not far from the school.
An editor at the Shenyang Evening News said on its official Twitter-like microblog account that Lu’s father confirmed his daughter’s death when reporters visited the family home. In the Chinese-language world of social media, people have been sharing their condolences on what is believed to be Lu’s microblogging account hosted by Sina Weibo, which was last updated Monday with a breakfast photo. By early Wednesday afternoon, more than 14,000 comments were left on the page.
In nearby Medford, William Campbell described his daughter, Krystle, as the light of his life, “a very caring, very loving person.”
“Daddy’s little girl,” the 56-year-old said.
Her mother, Patty Campbell, her voice breaking into tears, said the couple was “heartbroken at the death of our daughter.”
“She was a wonderful person. Everybody that knew her loved her. … She had a heart of gold. She was always smiling. You couldn’t ask for a better daughter,” the mother said. “This doesn’t make sense.”
Their daughter’s best friend, Karen Rand, suffered a severe leg injury in the blasts. “She’s very badly hurt. She’s all messed up,” William Campbell said. “Her leg was all destroyed.”