Arredondo Returns to Hand out Flags at Boston Marathon

Carlos Arredondo returned to the Boston Marathon on Monday, a year after the Costa Rican helped rescue a wounded runner during a terrorist attack at the 2013 race.

Arredondo and his wife, Melida, observed the race near the marathon's finish line. The 53-year-old handed out miniature U.S. flags to passersby, just as he did last year before the bombs went off. This morning he wore a "Boston Strong" sweater and his trademark white cowboy hat.

At one point, he removed the hat to try on a golden olive wreath -- a gift from the winner of the Boston Marathon Women's Wheelchair Division. Tatyana McFadden, who also won the race in 2013, ran for Team MR8, the foundation for Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard. She told CBS's Boston affiliate that she gave away the crown to thank Arredondo for his support.

Jeff Bauman, the bombing survivor who Arredondo assisted, watched the race by the finish line. He cheered on racers alongside his fiancée, Erin Hurley, and another bombing victim, Adrianne Haslet. Haslet lost her left leg in the terrorist attack, and used scuba diving in Costa Rica as a form of rehab. The group were among the 3,000 invited guests for this year's race.

A record field of 36,000 runners participated in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Meb Keflezighi, 38, became the first U.S. runner to win the marathon since 1983. Kenyan Rita Jeptoo repeated as the women's champion.

Arredondo attended last year's race with the flags to honor his sons, Alex and Brian. A sniper killed the oldest son Alex, a U.S. Marine, while he served in Iraq. The younger son died by suicide in 2011, after years of dealing with depression over the loss of his brother. During the 2013 marathon, two bombs claimed three lives and injured more than 260 people.

After the bombs went off, Arredondo rushed toward the injured Bauman, who later played a role in identifying the perpetrators. The Costa Rican and two more rescuers pushed Bauman to safety in a wheelchair, and a photo of that scene came to represent the tragedy and the heroism of the day.

Bauman, 28, recently wrote a column for The Guardian about the scene captured in that famous image:

There was so much smoke, and so much blood, and then suddenly it was clear, and a man was there, crouching in the road, pointing a camera at us. I thought, Why isn't he helping? People are dying. And then I was in an ambulance, on my way to surgery, and I didn't think about him again.

By the time I regained consciousness two days later, the photograph had gone viral around the world. All my family and friends had seen it. For most of them, including my mom and dad, that's how they found out I was hurt. No information, just an image: my lower right leg gone, my lower left leg stripped to the bone.

He said he's only glanced at the photo once. But Bauman wrote that he's not angry about the photo of the rescue taken by Charlie Krupa of the Associated Press.

I told Charlie not to worry. He was doing his job that day, and he was doing it well. People still write me to say how much the photo meant to them. I told Charlie that I understand now, like I didn't then, that he was helping us that day, in the best way he knew how. He was documenting what happened. He was showing the world the truth -- that bombs tear flesh and smash bones -- and making the tragedy real.

Carlos and Melida Arredondo told ABCNews that they have flashbacks of the attack. They've coped by maintaining close ties to the "Boston Strong" community that formed in the aftermath of the bombings. Carlos Arredondo and Bauman have received special recognition at Boston sporting events and other activities. They were guests of the White House at the U.S. State of the Union in January. The pair also traveled together to Costa Rica last year.

Before this year's race, Arredondo joined survivors, first responders and other community members at the marathon finish line for a photo shoot arranged by the Boston Globe.

"It's been a year of grieving, and of moving on with life, healing through the support of others," Arredondo told the Globe. "It's been a year of overwhelming kindness. Oh my goodness, the overwhelming kindness."

 

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©2014 The Tico Times (San José, CRI)

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