11-year-old Martinez boy injured in Boston bombings

April 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Among the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings is an 11-year-old boy from Martinez, badly wounded by shrapnel. He was in Boston to watch his mom cross the finish line. Now he is in the hospital where he's expected to stay for at least a week.

Aaron Hern is a 6th grader at Martinez Junior High School. He will be 12 years old in a couple of weeks. Family and friends in California are getting emails and calls from Boston describing what happened to Aaron.

"He was waiting for his mom to go through the finish line to take pictures of her and shortly before she got there, the bomb went off," said Janene Sides, a family friend.

Aaron was in the middle of the chaos, severely wounded by shrapnel that dug right to the bones in his thigh and hip. His father was nearby on the reviewing stand while Aaron was at street level waiting for his mother who was a few hundred yards from finishing the race.

"Dad was up on the bleachers looking down and the crowd got chaotic and he found him lying down," said Sides.

Paramedics applied a tourniquet. The horrifying situation grew worse when Aaron's father wasn't allowed to ride along in the ambulance and for a while his parents didn't know which hospital he was taken to. Back home in Martinez, neighbors were just learning about the explosions.

"And so I immediately thought of the Herns and the first thing that happens is you worry about the people you love," said Nicole Di Giorgio, a neighbor.

The family was excited to see Katherine Hern compete in her first Boston Marathon. Her husband, Alan, is the head football coach at Alhambra High School in Martinez. Friends say the 11-year-old son couldn't wait for the Boston trip.

"Oh, he was so excited to go with mom and dad to see mom run in the marathon. And he missed the Cal-Oregon game, but he was going to give it up. He was going to go and see Mom run in the marathon," said Hugh Laidley, Aaron's baseball coach.

"You never think that something like this is going to happen to someone you know or care about, but then when it does, you really do realize how precious life is," said Di Giorgio.

Alhambra High School where both of the parents worked sent out an email letting the community know exactly what was going on. Aaron's mother posted on Facebook that her son is in ICU in stable condition. He underwent one surgery and will probably have to have more operations. He's expected to be at Boston's Children Hospital for 7-10 days.

Bay Area runners stunned by bombings

Scores of runners from the Bay Area were in Boston for the marathon. Ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes of Ross had just finished some post-race interview about 20 minutes earlier when a bomb exploded.

"All of a sudden this wave of terror came over people and they weren't sure which way to turn, where was safe, what was going on. It was kind of a numb, surreal... Surreal is what it was. It was absolutely surreal," he recalled.

None of the runners who spoke to ABC7 News knew of any injuries among their friends and family from the Bay Area who were in Boston for the marathon. Although, a lot of people had difficulty reaching loved ones largely because of jammed phone lines and difficulty with cell phones.

A lot of people trying to reach loved ones went to the running specialty store "Fleet Feet." In Pleasant Hill, owner Kathie Guymon and her staff learned about the bombs at the finish line from Facebook. Both she and a staff member were at the Boston Marathon last year and know well the area around the finish line. They remembered the security being very heavy with little access in and out of the area once the race started.

They were both terribly saddened to hear about those killed and injured especially given the spirit of the event, but they were relieved that those they knew seem to be OK. "Everyone's just checking in that they're OK. So, we know lots of people there but so far, everyone's OK," Guyman said.

"It's really terrible. The Boston Marathon's the goal for so many runners who celebrate fitness and pushing their bodies beyond expecrtation," Fleet Feet employee Nicole Pennes said.

She had a bib for this year's race and was registered but had to cancel at the last minute. She says last year, she finished right about 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time which would have been a little before Monday's explosions.

She said while the leaders would've been long gone at that time, there were certainly large numbers of people crossing the finish line and the spectator stands would've been packed to capacity.


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