EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 19, 2013

Former North Andover couple improving after surgeries

By Bill Burt
bburt@eagletribune.com

---- — 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.

“It is still a little overwhelming for her,” said Rich, who has spent many hours with his parents along with his brother Chris. “But she’s going in the right direction.”

Rich said he hasn’t really talked much about the bombing, though he said, “From my understanding my father remembers it all. My mother is still in shock.”

Rich said he and his brother have been overwhelmed by the support his parents have received, which includes a fund — The Whalley Recovery Fund, www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/yy72/whalleyrecoveryfund, which has almost seen $50,000 in donations.

“We can’t thank people enough,” said Rich, a 2010 graduate of MIT. “We still have a long way to go. But they are getting better and that’s where our focus is right now.”

The Whalley Recovery Fund A fund has been set up to help the recovery of Ann and Eric Whalley, both 65, after suffering major injuries from the explosions on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston. Their two sons, Chris (34) and Rich (25), North Andover High alumni, are with them at the hospital and doing everything they can to support their parents. The Whalley family has a long road ahead of them physically and emotionally as they recover together from this horrible tragedy. As friends of the Whalley family, a recovery fund to help ease their financial burden has been started. Go to www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/yy72/whalleyrecoveryfund for more information.