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Let’s start the Weekend Open Thread early, because this week can’t end early enough.
I’m only going to print the top half of this photo, despite that many of you will have already seen it, because it is the stark reality that Kevin Ware’s protruding leg bone only hinted at three weekends ago. The bottom half shows where Jeff Bauman’s legs were blown off. If you want to see it, you can go here. I can tell the story without descending below that thin red tube in the hand of the man with the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo.
That’s Jeff Bauman’s femoral artery. Arredondo is pinching it off as Bauman is wheeled to an ambulance.
That’s amazing enough. Arredondo’s back story — his son who died in Iraq, his reaction at the time, his other son’s suicide, what he has done since then and what he was doing at the Boston Marathon itself — all of those have been well-covered. But it turns out that that action of Arredondo’s pinching off Bauman’s artery may be a big part of what cracked the case of the bombing, leading to the identification of the Tsarayev brothers.
Arredondo kept enough blood inside of Bauman’s body to keep his brain alive. Inside Bauman’s brain was a memory of the appearance of the man who had dropped a bag at his feet and looked him briefly in the eye just before the explosion. According to Bauman’s brother, he was able to communicate his memory to law enforcement agents and thus help whittle down the mounds of video evidence to one suspect that they could track. That story appears here.
Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview.
Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded, tearing Jeff’s legs apart. … He lost both legs below the knee. “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me’,” Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview. …
While still in intensive care, Jeff Bauman gave the FBI a description of the man he saw, his brother said. Bauman’s information helped investigators narrow down whom to look for in hours of video of the attack, he said.
Arredondo had reacted quickly, jumping over barricades to get to Bauman — among presumably many possible targets for help. Until this morning, I had thought that this was simply a story of his person redemption and of his saving a life. Now it looks like what he may have held in his hand was the key to breaking the case.
Some will surely see the hand of God in this development; others, simply how good acts can multiply beyond our wildest expectations. For me, this is a story about courage and presence of mind — on both Arredondo’s and Bauman’s parts — as well as the professionalism of the medical and forensic professionals who helped Bauman catch the man who blew off his legs. The reaction to Kevin Ware’s injury was visceral; we’re not supposed to see what’s inside our limbs. My reaction to Jeff Bauman’s injury is something closer to awe.
This is your Weekend Open Thread. Talk about this or whatever else you want within bounds of decorum and discretion.
On a personal note: I’m in court this next week (barring another delay), so I’ll be more scarce around here than usual. Luckily, our cup increasingly runneth over with good writers to tell the county’s stories.