EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 17, 2013

Andover teen goes from spectator to blast victim

By Dustin Luca

---- — BOSTON — The Yepez family of Andover, with friends from California, was just ahead of Boston Marathon mile marker 26 when the first bomb went off at 2:50 p.m.

They didn’t know it yet, but in 15 seconds, their lives would be changed dramatically and a son seriously injured.

“Where we were standing, you clearly heard the first explosion. You could see it. It caused everyone to look, and everyone was like, ‘What was that?’” Luis Yepez said. “You’re looking at color. You’re looking at the runners. And in the blink of an eye, you don’t hear anything. You don’t see anything. It’s just a flash — and when you open your eyes, it’s a scene of devastation.”

The air was full of dust and smoke after the second blast. Bottles and chairs were scattered. Amid the debris were “people in horrific conditions, missing limbs,” Yepez said.

Among the injured were his 15-year-old son David and a 12-year-old friend of David, who had flown in from the west coast to see the race.

David was not far from 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, one of three people killed in the attack.

“We were approximately five to eight feet from the blast, and the way we were lined up, standing to root on the runners, David and his friend took the brunt of that explosion,” his father said. “He was thrown to the ground. He suffered some second-degree burns to his left arm, a small portion of the side of his face and ruptured his ear drums.”

David, a freshman at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, is being treated at the Floating Hospital For Children in Boston. He also had surgery yesterday to move a 1-by-3-inch piece of shrapnel from his leg, his father said.

David and his friend, who suffered similar lacerations in the blast and is also hospitalized, are going to recover, Luis Yepez said.

It’s those who won’t be all right that he’s worried about — those who lost family members.

“David’s injuries are non-life threatening. Over time, they’ll heal,” Luis Yepez said. “We’re very grateful that’s the case, but our family’s concern is with those that have had it much more difficult.”

The family has a strong affection for running, and they all hope to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon, said Luis Yepez, who with his brother Juan, is a real estate developer and entrepreneur in Lawrence.

That may not be next year, Luis Yepez cautioned, but he said he would “hate to have this type of thing start controlling your life.”

“We really haven’t thought it out. The intention has been with David, and we haven’t thought beyond that,” he said. “We run marathons. It’s not going to stop us from running and participating in events. Our goal is to, one day, qualify and be able to run the Boston Marathon.”