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Boston Bombing Trial: Survivors Recall Horror and Chaos

The Boston Marathon bombing trial picked up on its second day with searing testimony from survivors.
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BOSTON — The Boston Marathon bombing trial picked up on its second day with searing testimony from survivors, including Jeff Bauman, a spectator who lost his lower legs in the twin blasts and had an eerie encounter with a young man he later identified as one of the alleged attackers.

The jury also heard from William Richard, whose 8-year-old son died and 6-year-old daughter lost a leg in the explosions, another father who watched his young son writhe in pain from a massive leg wound, a woman whose leg was blown apart, and police officers who tried to save victims.

The testimony was part of federal prosecutors' effort to detail the depth of pain and agony wrought by the April 15, 2013 bombing, allegedly carried out by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on trial for detonating one of two pressure-cooker bombs that rocked the race's crowded final stretch. Three people died in the blasts, and a fourth, an MIT police officer, was shot to death during the ensuing manhunt. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police four days after the attack.

Bauman was one of those who helped lead investigators to the brothers. He told the jury he was at the Boylston Street finish line, waiting for his girlfriend to pass, when he bumped into a guy with a backpack trying to make his way through the crowd. "I looked at him. He looked very suspicious. He was alone," Bauman recalled. "He wasn't watching the race. He didn't look like he was having fun."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stared ahead through Bauman's testimony — just as he'd done Wednesday during hours of emotional recollections from survivors.

Bauman went on. Soon after noticing the strange man, Bauman said he saw the bag on the ground. Then, he saw a flash. He heard a series of pops. He was tossed to the ground. His ears were ringing. "It smelled like the Fourth of July," he recalled. Then he looked at his legs. "I could see my bones and flesh sticking out," he said.

Bauman, who has written a book about his experience, said he told himself, "This is it. This is the way it’s gonna end. I had a great life."

Then some people came to help him, including a man in a cowboy hat. A photo of that effort became an iconic image from that horrific day. As Bauman spoke, the man in the hat, Carlos Arredondo, nodded from the gallery.

In the hospital, Bauman saw a friend, and that's how he knew he wasn't dead. He told his friend, "I saw the kid. I know what happened." Agents from the FBI and State Police came to his bed. He described the man he'd seen, and drew a sketch. That information was used to identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

An emergency responder and volunteers, including Carlos Arredondo in the cowboy hat, push Jeff Bauman in a wheel chair after he was injured in an explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston.Charles Krupa / AP, file

Later on Thursday, the jury heard the story of William Richard, father of Martin Richard, 8, who died at the scene and whose daughter, Jane, then 6, lost a leg. After the blast, he said, he began searching for his wife and children. Staggering on shrapnel-wounded legs, Richard found his wife, Denise, kneeling over Martin.

Asked what he saw, Richard said, "A little boy who has his body severely damaged by an explosion. I just knew from what I saw there was no chance. The color of his skin and so on. I knew in my head I needed to act quickly or we might not only lose Martin but we might lose Jane too."

Richard pointed to grisly photos that captured the scene. In the gallery, several survivors wept. So did a prosecutor's wife.

Richard recalled an ambulance taking Martin away. "I saw my son alive, barely, for the last time," he said.

There was similarly visceral testimony from Alan Hern, who recalled making his way through a cloud of smoke and finding his 11-year-old son, Aaron, on the ground, eyebrows singed, legs black, his left thigh mangled and bloody. "It really hurts, Daddy, it really hurts," the boy said.

Hern continued with his trip to the hospital to find Aaron, where he was on a breathing tube and had "zipper-like wounds down his legs" and BB marks on his abdomen. "They found bone fragments of someone else in his wounds," Hern said.

Later, Roseann Sdoia shared her story of shrapnel shredding one of her legs, and her fear of bleeding to death. She woke up in a hospital with her leg amputated below the knee. ‎"It's extremely difficult to learn how to walk again, how to run again," she said.

The jury also heard the stories of two Boston police officers who ran into the chaos and tended to mortally wounded women.

One of the cops was Lauren Woods, who said she encountered an Asian woman surrounded by emergency workers in front of the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street. She had serious wounds to her lower torso, and was vomiting. Woods tried to clear her throat to keep her from choking and performed CPR. She also found the woman's identification from Boston University, which revealed her as Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu. "Lingzi, stay with us," Woods recalled telling her.

Woods said she met Lu's parents at a prayer service, and told them, "She wasn't alone when she died."

The other Boston police officer, Frank Chiola, recalled looking for people to help in the bloodied, panicked crowd. He applied tourniquets to several victims, including Krystle Campbell.

"From the waist down, it is really tough to describe, it was complete mutilation," Chiola said of Campbell's injuries. He said he stayed with Campbell in the medical tent even though by then she was dead.

At points during Thursday's session, defense attorneys protested the depth to which some victims had been allowed to delve into the attack's impact on their lives.

They argued that parts of that testimony may not be admissible in the guilt phase of the trial, and may be more appropriate for the penalty phase. Judge George O'Toole Jr. did not seem too concerned about it, but agreed to limit testimony that included references to experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan, which could be construed as added motivation for Tsarnaev, a Muslim.