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April 19, 2013

Former North Andover couple improving after surgeries

BOSTON — Three days after fearing and seeing the worst, Rich Whalley was smiling yesterday.

His parents, Eric and Ann Whalley, formerly of North Andover, were injured to varying degrees after the explosions on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Both needed immediate surgeries — his dad, Eric, had a piece of shrapnel in his brain, a severely damaged eye and several broken bones while his mother had a very bad leg injury — and were in separate buildings in Intensive Care Units.

Yesterday they were moved to the same room, both nearly stabilized enough to be moved out of ICU. And both got an important visitor to their hospital room, Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama’s wife.

“It was an amazing day,” said Rich, a 2006 graduate of North Andover High. “It was amazing how much better my parents looked and the fact that they were in the same room together. And then Michelle Obama came by. It really was incredible.”

Only a few hours after the explosion on Patriots Day, his dad, Eric, was seen in a dramatic photo being led away from the scene in a wheelchair with blood all over his body.

He hadn’t been able to speak to his family until yesterday.

“My dad was moving around, cracking jokes, being real positive,” said Rich, whose parents moved to Charlestown after he graduated from college in 2010. “He has made an amazing recovery. Everything is stable in his head. His right eye is damaged. And the piece of shrapnel (in his head) is a BB. But he will probably be moved out of ICU (Friday or Saturday).”

According to Rich, his mother Ann had major injuries to one of her legs, including some soft tissue damage. Both of his parents suffered from burns on one of their legs.

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