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April 19. 2013 4:12AM

Epsom family devastated but undaunted


Karen, Ron and Krystara Brassard of Epsom were all injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. (COURTESY)

EPSOM - Ron and Karen Brassard, their daughter Krystara, and friend Victoria McGrather were watching the runners cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A friend was expected to cross the finish line at any moment, and they were there to cheer them through the final stretch.

Then something went terribly and suddenly wrong: an explosion, deafness, confusion, pain. The first bomb in the Boston Marathon attack had gone off, and they were standing only about 10 feet away.

Pain shot through Ron's leg. He didn't dare to look down for a time, but soon found that a chunk was missing. Karen's calves were hit with debris. Krystara's ankle was dislocated.

Ron and Victoria were taken to Tufts Medical Center, where they've already had several surgeries. Ron is expecting his third, and hopefully final surgery to occur today.

Karen, however, was brought to Boston Medical Hospital. For days, while only being a little under two miles from each other, they were only able to speak over the phone.

Finally, yesterday, Ron was told that he would see his wife later that day.

"It was a great start to my day," he wrote on Facebook. "No words can express how difficult it has been to go through this without your best friend by your side or there to hold your hand."

That was not the only reconnection Thursday brought for the Brassards, however.

Moments after Robert Wheeler, a Framingham State College student, had crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, a blast shook the street. While the crowd descended into terror and confusion, Wheeler, hearing a girl screaming for someone to help her father, immediately ran to their side, taking off his shirt and using it to apply pressure to the man's leg, ultimately saving his life.

The girl screaming for help was Krystara Brassard, and the man he saved was Ron.

The two parted ways that day, but on Wednesday, hoping to reconnect, they began putting feelers out through the web and the media. Ron's sisters started calling outlets that had spoken to Wheeler and his college, hoping to get in touch with him.

By Thursday, their efforts paid off, and Ron spoke again with the 22-year-old he calls his "hero."

For his part, Ron has attempted to focus on his gratitude for the humanity and kindness he has seen since Monday from friends and from strangers.

"I'll leave you with this," he wrote on Facebook. "With all the negativity that could be taken from these past few days, the horror of being just steps away from the bomb, injuries to three family members, worries about the astronomical medical costs associated with this time, multiple surgeries for both my wife and I, and obviously even worse incurred by so many others including one of our close friends, I will choose to hold on to the positive thoughts, an amazing community effort that included runners, citizens, volunteers, paramedics, first responders, police, trauma teams and on and on," he wrote on Facebook.

"But for me, the most important, the incredible strength and support, from a most outstanding group of friends and family that have showered me, unabated for three days, with love and prayers that have carried me through this ordeal. I can never say thank you enough or as "big" as it should be said. " Karen is expected to be released from the hospital before Ron, but according to her, she has no intention of returning to her Epsom home until Ron can come with her.



bclogston@newstote.com


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