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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mass. man who works in Nashua lost both legs in Boston Marathon attack, family experiences outpouring of support from community

NASHUA – A co-worker of the Chelmsford, Mass., man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombings said he was shocked to see his colleague on the news earlier this week.

“It was just one of those things where the television was on and you know, I wasn’t paying that much attention,” recalled Joe Robillard. “And then I looked over and I said, ‘Oh my God. That looks like Jeff from Costco.’ I got the chills and my heart was just broken.” ...

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NASHUA – A co-worker of the Chelmsford, Mass., man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombings said he was shocked to see his colleague on the news earlier this week.

“It was just one of those things where the television was on and you know, I wasn’t paying that much attention,” recalled Joe Robillard. “And then I looked over and I said, ‘Oh my God. That looks like Jeff from Costco.’ I got the chills and my heart was just broken.”

Jeff Bauman Jr. is the 27-year-old who remains in a Boston hospital only a few days after the attacks at the marathon, now with both legs amputated. Bauman was reportedly attending the race to cheer on his girlfriend who was running Monday before two bombs exploded in the Back Bay area within seconds of each other. More than 170 people were injured and three people are dead. At Boston Medical Center, doctors said they had to amputate Bauman’s legs because of extensive vascular and bone damage from the blast.

Robillard, of Tewkbury, Mass., works at the Nashua Costco on Daniel Webster Highway with Bauman and said he was beside himself after seeing the image of Bauman being wheeled away, taken moments after the blast by The Associated Press.

The photograph, one of the iconic images the surfaced hours after the blasts, shows Bauman with emergency responders racing him away from the scene with the help of a bystander wearing a cowboy hat, who has been identified as Carlos Arredondo. The photograph is extremely graphic, and the image, cropped by most news organizations to hide the raw carnage, struck Robillard to his core. He said he’s only worked at Costco for a couple of years but he knows everyone couldn’t help but know Bauman.

“He’s part time, here and there, but you know he’s so pleasant you can’t help but know him. … He’s always smiling. He’s just so positive,” Robillard said. “I’m getting a little emotional thinking about it.”

The photograph was so striking that Nareen Bagdasarian, 25, of Cupertino, Calif., created a Facebook page to raise funds for Bauman and his family. Bagdasarian has never met the family and said she has no ties to the New Englander, but she felt like she had to do something. She set up her own fundraiser because at that time, the family had not created their own. She is now encouraging people to donate to the cause at “Bucks for Bauman” on the GoFundMe.com donation website, which was setup by Bauman’s friends and family.

“After seeing that photo with him, just with his legs fully gone ... you can just see the agony in his face and that just resonated with me,” Bagdasarian aid. “I was specifically touched by his story because of the particular injuries he sustained.”

The Concord Monitor reported Bauman’s parents, Jeff, Sr., and Csilla, of Concord, were devastated when they heard the news of their son on Monday. They raced down to Massachusetts and reached the Boston hospital just after their son had come out of surgery.

In a family statement, the Baumans said they were thankful for the outpouring of support from all over the world.

“Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. They did help greatly,” Jeff Bauman Sr. wrote. “Unfortunately, my son was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Lowell, Mass., resident John Sullivan is the best friend of Bauman Jr. and grew up with him in Chelmsford. He said in less than 24 hours, the Bucks for Bauman campaign has raised more than $35,000 for the family. Sullivan said he didn’t want to say much, because he wanted the story to focus on his friend but he said he was overwhelmed by the donations.

“The response is surreal,” he said.

The Bedford Village Inn also is promoting the sale of a special pastry through the week to benefit the Baumans. On their Facebook page, staff of the restaurant and inn says Bauman’s mother is a “long time friend” and she has been “faced with a terrible tragedy.”

From Thursday-Sunday , “Jeff’s Bag,” a signature chocolate pastry dessert incorporating the 27-year-old’s favorite blueberry flavor will be sold at the inn with all proceeds going to the family as a modified version of the kitchen’s signature dish.

“Our pastry team is working feverishly as we speak to keep up with the demand,” the inn’s staff posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

Robillard said he is thinking of about Bauman’s bright spirit this week, though he said he has also been overcome with sadness. He said Bauman is just about his own child’s age and he is shocked by Monday’s events.

“Here you are going to cheer on your girlfriend running the race and the next thing you know, your whole life, it changes,” he said. “... It just bothers you. There’s just such hatred in the world.”

Samantha Allen can be reached
at 594-6426 or sallen@nashua
telegraph.com. Also follow Allen on Twitter (@Telegraph_SamA). Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.