By Bill Burt
---- — BOSTON -- Rich Whalley knew his parents would be in Boston somewhere on Monday, walking near the Boston Marathon route.
The North Andover native’s parents, Eric and Ann Whalley, moved to Charlestown three years ago and began taking long walks along the marathon route on Patriots Day.
Whalley was worried when he heard about the explosions. Then his brother, Chris, called with some shocking news.
“He saw a picture of my dad online” (bloodied and in a wheelchair), said Whalley, who graduated from North Andover High in 2006 and MIT in 2010 and now lives in Cambridge. “It was tough to see.”
Whalley later found out that his mother, Ann, was a casualty, too, with leg injuries.
The Whalleys were among more than 170 people injured in the Marathon bombings.
So were at least five other Merrimack Valley residents or natives.
David Yepez of Andover, a freshman at St. John’s Prep, had surgery to remove shrapnel from his leg. (See related story.)
Amesbury High graduates Remy Lawler, who also had surgery to remove shrapnel from her leg, and Erin Hurley were both recovering yesterday from injuries.
Andover High senior Samantha Kelley, whose father was working security near the finish line, suffered an ear concussion from the blast.
Jeff Bauman Jr., of Chelmsford, lost both legs in the blasts.
The same questions likely ran through the minds of those victims’ families, as they did for Whalley’s.
Rich Whalley was frantic after seeing the photo of his father online. Was his mother OK? What hospital were they in?
“That was a problem. We couldn’t find out which hospital they were at,” said Whalley. “Apparently, they spelled our name wrong. Anyway, we posted on Facebook and we were able to find out where they were pretty efficiently.”
His parents were both at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, both in ICU.
But his father was much worse off, with a piece of shrapnel in his brain and with one eye badly damaged.
The shrapnel in Whalley’s skull came from one of two homemade bombs that authorities say were likely fashioned from pressure cookers and packed with shards of metal, nails and ball bearings. Such bombs have been a weapon of militants in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen once published an online manual on how to make one.
“He had a lot of broken bones, a lot of injuries,” said Whalley as his father underwent surgery yesterday afternoon. “But the injury to his head and eye were real serious. They are concerned about an infection in his brain. They are monitoring that closely.”
His mother, Ann, was in stable condition yesterday at the Faulkner Hospital wing of the Brigham & Women’s, with some leg injuries.
Whalley said his father couldn’t talk before his surgery yesterday and instead squeezed his hand or blinked his eyes to answer questions.
“We are very grateful, seeing people come together to help each other,” said Whalley. “That’s a beautiful thing. We just are just focusing on one thing a time for now.”
Daughter’s disappearance frightens dad
Andover resident Paul Kelley has volunteered to work security at the Boston Marathon for over 25 years,. This year, he took his 18-year-old daughter and her friend with him.
Samantha “Sam” Kelley, a senior at Andover High School and soon-to-be child psychology major at the University or Rhode Island, and her friend, Andover High senior Rachel Huntley, were standing on Boylston Street Monday when the first of two bombs went off.
She wasn’t hit with shrapnel but was so close to the blast that it knocked her off her feet, her mother Lori said.
Lori Kelley wasn’t at the marathon on Monday. Ultimately, she would learn of the twin bombings from her daughter, who called her seconds after the explosions.
“She called me and she was screaming into the phone, ‘Mom! Oh my god, a bomb went off!’” Lori Kelley said. “It was really hard to contain myself, but I said, ‘Samantha, find everybody and run.’ She was screaming, ‘I can’t find dad! I can’t find uncle Michael!’”
Meanwhile, Paul Kelley had heard the explosion from the VIP section of the race. He said he turned toward the sound of the explosion. “It was exactly where Samantha was.”
“I freaked out and started running down there,” he said. “When I got there, she wasn’t there. I couldn’t find her.”
Sam had grabbed her friend by the hand and fled the scene. They ran toward the finish line and stopped because they didn’t know where they were going to go.
“One of my good friends found them and texted one of the other guys that he had the girls,” he said.
Sam was treated for an ear concussion at Lawrence General Hospital yesterday and will quickly recover from, her father said.
“Lucky ... but it was horrifying. As a father, I was terrified.”
Amesbury woman an ‘angry’ survivor
Remy Lawler and Erin Hurley are both Amesbury High graduates and Lesley University students.
Lawler was in a Boston hospital last night recovering from surgery performed Monday to remove a piece of shrapnel from her right thigh.
“She’s OK, she had the operation,” her father, Arthur Lawler of Amesbury, said.
Lawler ,25, and her two roommates were at the finish line to see Hurley, who was running the race.
Hurley was also injured, as were Lawler’s roommates, though Lawler’s father did not how seriously.
Lawler’s father, who was about to head back to the hospital to join his wife, who spent the night with their daughter, said Remy called her mother shortly after the attack and left a message saying she was hurt. During the phone call, EMTs were heard comforting her.
“EMTs telling her she’s OK, she’s not going to lose her leg,” Arthur Lawler said.
The Lawlers were outside doing yard work when a neighbor informed them of the explosions, prompting Lawler’s mother to check her phone.
Arthur Lawler said his daughter would likely be in the hospital for another two or three days and may require additional surgery.
“The terrorists don’t care; they’re just sending a message that they are there. ... My daughter has been traumatized. She’s angry, but she’s a survivor. She just hopes they find the people responsible.”
Chelmsford man loses legs
Jeff Bauman Jr., 27, of Chelmsford was the man seen in a widely used Associated Press photo being pushed away from the bombing scene in a wheelchair. The photo appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Eagle-Tribune.
His father, Jeff Bauman, said on his Facebook page that his son had to have both lower limbs removed at Boston Medical Center because of extensive vascular and bone damage. He said his son also had to have another surgery to clear fluid in his abdomen.
Bauman said his son, who was there to watch his girlfriend run, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The girlfriend was not hurt.
Dustin Luca, David Rodgers and The Associated Press contributed to this story.