A beloved Dorchester family watching the Boston Marathon near the finish line in Copley Square was caught up in deadly fashion in one of the two bomb blasts that exploded on Monday afternoon. Martin Richard, 8, was killed in the explosion, while his sister Jane, 7, suffered a grievous injury to her leg. Their mom, Denise, was also badly hurt in the blast and has undergone surgeries to treat injuries to her eye.
In a statement issued through a spokesman on Tuesday, Martin’s father Bill Richard said, “My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries.
“We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you.”
Bill Richard and the couple’s older son, Henry, were not seriously hurt in the blast, which was the second of two explosions that tore through a crowded sidewalk along Boylston Street at 2:50 p.m. Three people were killed in the attack, the other two having been identified as Krystle Marie Campbell of Arlington, a catering manager, and Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student who was a native of the Chinese northeastern city of Shenyang. Another 176 people were injured, many of them badly.
The Richard family had spent the afternoon in the area watching the runners and enjoying a beautiful spring day in the city. Despite some media reports to the contrary, Bill Richard — who is an avid runner— was not competing in this year’s race. The family members were spectators who sought a vantage point near the race’s finish line to cheer on runners, including friends and acquaintances from Dorchester.
Word of the injuries spread quickly through the family’s tight-knit Ashmont-Adams neighborhood, where both parents are known and respected as civic leaders.
Bill Richard has served as board chairman of the St. Mark’s Area Main Street group and has played a key role in the transformation of Peabody Square over the last decade. The family is deeply involved in all facets of life in Dorchester, from little league baseball and soccer to their church, St. Ann’s parish in Neponset.
On Tuesday, neighbors who have worked with the Richards to beautify and modernize Peabody Square, placed black bunting along the fence rail of the landmark clock on Dorchester Avenue, which was re-set and stopped at 2:50 p.m.
Martin, a third-grader at Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS) on Pope’s Hill, is remembered as a compassionate, smart, energetic boy who loved sports and excelled as an athlete and a student.
“Martin could always be counted on to help another student,” said Kevin Andrews, headmaster at the school. “Teachers loved that about him. He really stood out as a helpful kid, very polite and well-raised.”
Denise Richard, a native of Savin Hill, serves as the school librarian at NHCS. Jane Richard, a first-grader at the school, is “a sparkling, smart little girl” who was “a little shy” when she first began classes this year, but who “loves giving hugs,” according to Andrews.
“This is a strong family,” Andrews said. “We are concerned about the trauma they’ve been through.”
Andrews said that the school had opened its doors on Tuesday of April vacation week to begin grief counseling for parents, students, and faculty. “The Boston Public Schools, Dr. Carol Johnson, the Mayor’s Office— they’ve all been tremendous in giving us all the resources we need,” he said.
Judy Tuttle, a neighbor and close friend of the Richard family, is among many in the Carruth Street neighborhood who have watched the Richard kids grow up. Tuttle said she will hold tight to a memory from last Friday, when she watched Denise and Martin walking up the street to buy a gallon of milk in nearby Peabody Square. “I said to myself, ‘That’s a special eight year old who still holds hands with his mom like that.’”
Tuttle said that Jane had recently begun taking Irish step-dancing classes. “She really took to it. She loved to show us her new steps,” Tuttle said.
Friends and neighbors flocked to Tavolo Ristorante in the Carruth Building to watch news coverage and swap information late into the night on Monday. Jim Keefe, a friend of the Richard family who lives in the Ashmont area, was among them. Keefe’s own sons, Nick and James, had run the marathon earlier in the day. Nick, 28, crossed the finish line on Boylston Street just seconds before the first bomb detonated less than a block away.
“I heard this earth-shattering boom. I turned and saw this plume and then I heard a second boom, just as loud and earth-shattering,” said James Keefe. “I almost blacked out from fear.” Neither of the Keefe brothers was injured and they reunited with their parents a few blocks from the scene of the crime.
Paul Flaherty of Dorchester said that his wife Aggie and his daughter Ali, 13, were in front of the Marathon Sports store when the first explosion happened. Both narrowly avoided serious injury. Aggie was cut, possibly by flying glass and needed eight stitches at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. They were home safe by nightfall, but “saw some gruesome” things. “They were right in the thick of it,” Flaherty said.
Bostonians with Dorchester ties were also among those wounded in the blasts. Two women who sustained injuries included Phyllistine Daly-Dixon and Nikki Spencer, who are affiliated with DotWell, an organization that is a collaboration between the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center and the Codman Square Health Center.
They were outside Marathon Sports to take a photo of David Cawley, one of the co-owners of the Blarney Stone. He had volunteered to run as a way to fundraise for DotWell’s Family School Initiative, according to Doreen Treacy, a close friend of Daly-Dixon and Spencer.
When the bomb exploded, Daly-Dixon was thrown six feet into the air, and she landed on top of a man who had lost both of his legs in the blast. She had lacerations on one of her legs and a blown out eardrum. Spencer had both eardrums blown out.
“They were there trying to support David,” she said. Cawley, who was at the 25th mile of the race at the time of the explosions, was stopped by officials who told him to go home.
Daly-Dixon, who lives in Codman Square, and Spencer, who lives in Cambridge and has worked with several Dorchester-based nonprofits, were both hospitalized and released on Tuesday, according to Treacy.
According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, a total of 176 patients were treated in area hospitals and 17 of them remained in critical condition.
Gintautas Dumcius contributed to this report.