BANGOR, Maine — The cowboy-hat-wearing rescuer who assisted a victim of Monday’s explosive attack near the Boston Marathon finish line has Bangor ties.
Carlos Arredondo is featured in an Associated Press photograph that shows him helping to guide a wheelchair carrying a man who had his legs blown off in the blast to medical help. The widely published image is an iconic representation of the Boston Marathon bombing, a terrorist attack that took three lives and left more than 170 injured.
Arredondo’s son, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, lived in Bangor with his mother, Victoria Foley, before his 2004 death during his second tour of duty in Iraq. Alexander was 20 years old. Carlos Arredondo, Foley’s ex-husband, lived in Florida at the time.
Carlos Arredondo came to Boston to honor his late son as part of a group representing Run for the Fallen, an organization dedicated to recognizing deceased soldiers, according to John Mixon of Ogunquit, a member of the group.
— AP Noticias (@AP_Noticias) April 15, 2013
Arredondo has been inundated with hundreds of media calls since Monday, according to Mixon. He did not respond to Bangor Daily News messages on Tuesday.
Mixon said five members of the group were running in the race to honor five fallen soldiers. Another 15 family members of deceased troops had seats in the grandstand.
Mixon was watching from the stands, expecting one of the group’s runners to cross the finish line at any moment. Arredondo was on the sidelines, passing out American Flags to U.S. National Guard troops running in the race.
Then came the explosions.
“When the blast happened, I lost my balance and fell off the step,” Mixon said Tuesday. “Complete shock” followed. Mixon jumped the fence between the stands and the road, with police yelling for him and others to get away from the scene. Instead, Mixon and others ran toward the devastation to see if they could help.
He met Arredondo at the fence near one of the blast sites.
“We both kind of ran over there simultaneously,” Mixon said.
Arredondo hopped over the barricade and began tending the wounded while Mixon tried to tear the fence out of the way with the help of police, staff and National Guardsmen.
Mixon said Arredondo, a Costa Rica native, went to a man who lost both his legs in the explosion and fashioned a tourniquet out of a T-shirt.
When a woman brought around a wheelchair, Mixon and Arredondo helped get the man on and Arredondo and a medic led him to an ambulance. In some images, Arredondo appears to be pinching the victim’s severed artery shut.
“The whole thing lasted 5 or 6 minutes,” Mixon said.
Afterward, another photograph showed Arredondo at the scene, hatless, holding up a bloody American flag.
“He was unbelievably calm,” Mixon said of Arredondo. “He’s the warmest, most gentle man I’ve met in my life.”
Mixon and Arredondo, who now lives in Massachusetts, went to Mixon’s daughter’s Boylston Street apartment to get cleaned up and drink coffee before leaving the city later that night.
“He wanted to take a shower and get the blood off him and everything,” Mixon said of Arredondo.
“The guy has been through so much tragedy, and to react the way he did under that kind of stress and pressure is just amazing,” Mixon said.
Moments after learning of his Marine son’s death in 2004, a grief-stricken Arredondo set fire to a Marine van in Florida. Arredondo, who suffered burns, later apologized for his actions, stating that the fire started accidentally when someone tried to pull him from the van while he was holding a propane torch, according to previous reports published in the Bangor Daily News.
Arredondo’s other son, Brian, who battled depression after his brother died, committed suicide in 2011, according to Mixon.
Mixon said memories from Monday’s explosions are still powerful and fresh.
“I can still smell the blood and the explosives,” he said. “I can’t get the vision out of my mind.”
“I just feel horribly sorry for [the victims]. I think we as a nation have to come together and mourn and not let these crazy people alter our lives,” Mixon added.
He said he plans on running in the Boston Marathon next year.