BBF Panel Commemorates Marathon Bombing
Journalists and Victims Tell Their Stories from April 15
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 23:10
For Boston Globe reporter Jenna Russell, the explosions at the Boston Marathon were only the beginning.
“I have never in my life had an experience like that week in the Globe newsroom,” she said. “It was our duty to do absolutely right by that story.”
Russell was one of six panelists at the Boston Book Festival on Saturday for a session called “The Boston Marathon: Telling Tragedy’s Story.” Moderated by Kelley Tuthill of WCVB News and held in the Boston Common Hotel, the panel included an array of perspectives on the events and aftermath of April 15, when two bombs were detonated near the marathon’s finish line.
“It’s interesting to think back,” Russell said, “because in some way it feels like a long time ago.”
Russell recalled being in “awe” of the “tireless” work by Globe reporters. She herself received emails from reporters all over the world, and she often found it difficult to organize and assess the seemingly endless information—and misinformation—that surrounded the marathon bombing.
It was only when Russell found herself driving home in the early hours of the morning that she gave herself time to think about how her relationship with Boston had irrevocably changed. Only then was she aware of the “overwhelming strangeness” of the historic events surrounding her.
Russell is currently working on a book that strives to provide a definitive account of the events surrounding the marathon bombing, and it will be co-authored by Scott Helman, her fellow Globe reporter who was also a panelist at the session.
“We wanted to make it a full account of everything that happened,” Helman said, “but we also wanted to make it about people.”
The types of people about whom Helman were speaking, interestingly, were also present to give their points of view. These people, however, did not have the same air of professionalism that the reporters exuded. Before the events of the marathon, they were not likely the kind of people that would sit on a panel. When their faces became attached to the marathon bombings, however, they became icons.
Carlos Arredondo, dressed in a “Boston Strong” shirt and cowboy hat—a casual article of clothing that has become a signature of his personality—presented his perspective on the marathon bombing with a vivacious story-telling style and a thick Costa Rican accent.
Arredondo was already a significant community figure before the marathon bombing. Having lost both of his sons—one to the Iraq War and another to suicide—Arredondo is a peace activist and an advocate for suicide prevention. At the Boston Marathon, however, he intended to be only a spectator, handing out American flags in front of the Boston Public Library to support veterans in the marathon.
“And then suddenly, the bomb went off right in front of me,” he said. He sprinted across Boylston St. to help pull the barrier away and spotted victim Jeff Bauman, who had lost both of his legs. He used his belt to help make a tourniquet for Bauman and then helped get him to an ambulance.
When Arredondo and two first responders rushed down Boylston St. with Bauman in a wheelchair, Charles Krupa, a photographer for the Associated Press, saw the group from a distance.
“From the distance of about half a block, I see that cowboy hat,” Krupa said, looking at Arredondo, who sat beside him at the Boston Book Festival panel. And then he had his chance for his iconic photograph of Arredondo rushing Bauman to medical assistance.
Despite Arredondo’s gregarious personality, a quieter man proved to be the most gripping member of the panel.
Marc Fucarile was not originally listed as a panelist for the event, but there he was, arriving in a wheelchair. A marathon victim who lost his right leg to the tragedy, he was the last survivor to leave the hospital after the bombing. He has a six-year-old son and a fiancee.
“That day, April 15, it was crazy to say the least,” he said.
But just as Russell would find herself trudging through onslaught of media information after the bombing, April 15 marked only the beginning for Fucarile. Almost instantly, the media wanted a piece of him.
“They’ve been respectful,” he said of reporters. “Some a little pushy sometimes.”
With reporters in the room, he was critical.
“It does seem like when you speak, you get edited,” he said of his experience with the media.
Kristen Daly, a public relations professional who managed Arredondo’s relationship with the media, was on the panel and addressed the meeting point between journalist and subject.
She said that she was “very much concerned with insulating [Arredondo] and his family from the wrong kind of media.”
Fucarile also pointedly asked Russell and Helmann about where the profits from their book would go, and they responded that The Globe is staying abreast of charity efforts for marathon victims.