Jeff Bauman Sr. already knew his son was at the race.
He had to be there. His son’s girlfriend, Erin Hurley, was running her first Boston Marathon and he was there cheering her on.
But when news started trickling to New Hampshire about two bombings in Boston, Mr. Bauman started to worry. He called his son, also named Jeff, over and over again.
No answer. An hour later, Jeff Jr. still hadn’t picked up.
It wasn’t until his stepdaughter, Erika, called him on the phone with the news that Jeff’s picture was floating around the internet.
“Did you see the picture?” she asked. “Jeffrey’s on the news. He got hurt.”
“Are you sure? Are you sure?” He was shouting now.
“Yes! Yes! I’m sure!” she shouted back.
He turned to Facebook, where he found the picture. The picture showed an ashen faced Jeff being wheeled away by emergency responders and the cowboy hat hero, Carlos Arredondo. But the photograph wasn’t the full picture that showed the extent of Jeff Jr.’s injuries. Mr. Bauman jumped into action.
Calling around to Boston-area hospitals, he finally found his son, alive, at the Boston Medical Center. He drove from Concord, N.H. and reached Jeff that evening.
But when he got there, he realized something. The picture he had seen didn’t show what really happened. Jeff’s legs had been blown off.
After surgery, what was left of Jeff’s legs had to be amputated at the knee. He lost so much blood that doctors had to resuscitate him many times. And even though his dad, Mr. Bauman, is devastated about his injuries and the horrific way he was informed, he is just glad Jeff survived.
Jeff, 27, is a good kid, never got in trouble, his father said. He likes playing guitar. He works behind the deli counter at Costco. He plans to pay off his student loans and go back to school at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
“The man in the cowboy hat — he saved Jeff’s life,” Ms. Bauman said. Mr. Bauman’s eyes widened. He said: “There’s a video where he goes right to Jeff, picks him right up and puts him on the wheelchair and starts putting the tourniquet on him and pushing him out. I got to talk to this guy!”
We’re thankful for the cowboy hero and for Jeff’s life. Our thoughts remain with the rest of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.