Boston Marathon Bombing Causes Injuries To 3 Family Members

04/18/2013 01:45 am ET | Updated Apr 18, 2013
Courtesy: The White Family

BOSTON -- Kevin White walked out of Boston Medical Center Wednesday night with a hole in the middle of his left forearm roughly the size of a nickel, sealed with dark clotted blood.

"A piece of metal was embedded there," White explained, sitting at a picnic table outside the hospital after he'd been discharged. The hair on the back of his head had been singed by explosives, leaving it shorter than on the sides. "That was fire and smoke," he said.

These were among the more superficial injuries White sustained Monday, standing six feet from one of the homemade bombs that tore apart the finish line of the Boston Marathon. White, 35, suffered a concussion from the blast, along with a ruptured left eardrum, and hairline fractures in some of his bones.

As Andrew White, Kevin's only brother, checked him out of the hospital, their mother, Mary Jo White, 65, remained behind. The shrapnel tore through her left arm, shattering the bones in her wrist and forearm.

Across town, Andrew and Kevin's father, Bill White, 71, lay in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where surgeons on Monday amputated his right leg above the knee. The limb was mangled beyond repair by the same deadly bomb shrapnel that claimed three lives and forever changed hundreds more.

"It's crazy, and it's really scary," said Andrew White, 38. "Right now I'm just trying to manage everything for my family and hold it all together."

Kevin White, a private equity adviser who was visiting Boston exploring career options, said caring for his parents -- at least in the near term -- will be his first priority.

Yet even as the two brothers prepared to make major life adjustments, they refused to focus on the negatives. "I could hate [what happened] and be angry about it and think these things shouldn't happen," said Andrew, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Ore. "But that's not going to make my dad have a leg."

"This happened, and there's no one thing that's to blame," Kevin White added. "A series of small events led to other ones, and it's really awful. But this is where we are."

Like so many of the victims of Monday's attack, no member of the White family was running in the marathon. "We were there because it was a beautiful day, a holiday, and we figured we'd just check out the race and maybe go on to the ball game," Kevin White recalled.

Just before 3 p.m., Kevin White said he heard the loudest boom he ever imagined. "The sound coursed through my whole body, and then there was a giant flash of white light, before everything went dark," he said. When he landed on the asphalt a few feet away, White said he instinctively got up, numb with adrenaline and fear. "I eventually made my way to the medical tent, but there was so much chaos and smoke everywhere that I didn't know where my parents were," he said.

With blood dripping from his face and arms, volunteers quickly steered him to an ambulance. "The ride to the hospital was really intense," he recalled. "There was a woman next to me weeping, and she asked me to hug her." In addition to his internal injuries, Kevin White had a three-inch piece of shrapnel in his forearm. He comforted the stranger all the way to Faulkner Hospital.

"While I was in the ambulance, I sent text messages to friends of mine, because cell phones weren't working, asking them to reach my brother." Within minutes, a colleague of Andrew White's interrupted him. "I was on the next flight out," Andrew said.

On Wednesday night, the brothers headed to Mass General, where Kevin White saw his father for the first time since the blast. "I didn't really know what to expect when I got there, but it was so different from my mom, who is in a painful but mobile stage. My father was in a more severe stage."

Bill White, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and semi-retired mergers and acquisitions consultant, spent decades coaching his sons' soccer teams. His condition was hard for his sons to process. "It was really tough, because I talked to my dad on the phone today," Kevin White said after the visit. "But when I saw him, he was [sedated], and his condition was really serious."

boston marathon kevin white

Bill and Mary Jo White (pictured above) have health insurance -- a serious concern as both parents undergo multiple surgeries. To help cover the expenses that insurance doesn't, former classmates of Andrew and Kevin White at Lawrence Academy, a private high school in Groton, Mass., organized an online fundraising drive. Since the fund's launch on Tuesday afternoon, they've raised more than $16,500 from school alumni, friends and strangers who reached out to help. Kevin White encouraged anyone who wants to help bombing victims to donate to The One Fund , an official victims fund established by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

Benjamin Coutu, an organizer of the family fund, met Andrew White during their sophomore year in high school. "We both played guitar," he said. "We formed a band -- the Purple Sheep." He still considers Andrew White one of his closest friends.

When he learned of the explosions Monday, Coutu turned on his television and watched the endless loops of graphic video showing the injured being carted away. He noticed a man in a wheelchair who looked a lot like Kevin White. He had a laceration on his face, a blood stain on one of his hands, and a rip in one of his pant legs. "He had a look of complete shock," Coutu recalled.

Coutu soon took out his camera and snapped images of Kevin White on his television. He cropped the photos and texted them to Andrew White, who confirmed that was indeed his brother.

Katy Chapdelaine Coburn got an email from a classmate explaining what had happened to Kevin White and his parents. Coburn, who graduated in the class of 1992 with Andrew White, set up the fundraising website with Coutu. "I just felt like I needed to act," she said. "It was horrible. I knew that this guy's family was in the hospital. The pictures were so grisly and so powerful. This was right in my neighborhood."

Coburn said the fundraising has gone viral. "People want to do something," she said. "They feel powerless."

But powerless is not how the White family feels.

"There are many, many people who've suffered far more than we have the past three days," Kevin White said as he and his brother drove home from visiting their father.

"Whatever the motive of whomever put this plan in motion, at this point it doesn't matter," Andrew White said. "We're coping with what's going on now and we're moving forward."

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