Bombing survivor: ‘Just like the movies, all the sound went away’

Boston Marathon explosion survivor Jarrod Clowery of Stoneham, Mass., describes the bombing scene near the finish line of the race during a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

After the first blast, nobody needed to tell Jarrod Clowery to run.

Clowery, 35, had been watching the Boston Marathon with friends when he saw the smoke and the running crowd. He climbed on a fence and then paused to call out to a friend’s girlfriend.

“ ‘Jackie, get your butt in the’ -- boom,” Clowery recalled at a Tuesday news conference at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he’s been hospitalized since the April 15 attacks. “And I just remember feeling engulfed.... Just like the movies, all the sound went away.”


Clowery, struck by the second bomb, was one of the 260-plus people wounded in the blasts, which also killed three onlookers watching the race.

In the two weeks since the attacks, harrowing accounts continue to trickle out as victims recover in local hospitals. Clowery, a Stoneham, Mass., carpenter, was riddled by almost 40 pieces of carpenter nails and ball bearings planted in the second bomb, which added to the burns and loss of hearing he suffered from the blast itself.

After the explosion on the sidewalk blew him onto the street, he looked down at his hand, “but it was too much to look at,” he said. Then he looked down at his legs, but “I didn’t want to look at those anymore” either.

Two off-duty state police rushed to his aid, and he said he questioned one officer who told him he was going to be OK.

“ ‘You tell anybody that,’ ” Clowery said he told the officer. “And he says, ‘Jarrod, believe me when I tell ya, there’s worse out here than you,’ and that’s when I remembered my friends, and I said, ‘Oh my God, my friends are all dead.’ This is what I thought.”

They weren’t dead -- but three of his friends lost legs from the explosion, Clowery said. Clowery hasn’t lost any limbs, but he hasn’t been able to walk since the attacks, with his legs and behind shredded by the bomb.

After he was taken to the emergency room, Clowery recalled feeling a sense of awe as he watched emergency officials go to work in the middle of “chaos.”

“I said in my head … ’I’ve never seen, in all my years in New England, Tom Brady put a drive together that was as good as this, what these people were doing,’ ” Clowery said. “I started envying and understanding what these people do, the doctors and the nurses and everything.”

Clowery now worries about feeling alone, he said. After the swarm care he’s received from doctors, nurses, family and friends -- plus a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama -- solitude drives him toward dark thoughts about the blast.

“When I’m alone, I do think about what happened, and I think for a while I’m going to need somebody with me … so if I got to air it out, I can air it out,” he said. “I’ve had a few cries and a few breakdowns, I guess, with a lot of people, a lot of friends and family.” But he said it was part of a “yin and yang” that went with the love he’s received, and he’s trying to accept the stress and work through it.

His surgeon, Dr. Robert Riviello, estimated Clowery might have to spend at least two more weeks in the hospital dealing with second-degree burns on 10% of his body and the 20 ball bearings still left in his body.

Asked what he wanted to do when he got home, Clowery responded, “I wish I had a quick answer for that. Three of my friends lost limbs, so getting back home, I’m gonna be back there before them, so the first thing I’m gonna do is figure out how to be there for them. As far as something normal, or a vacation, I’d like to talk with my friends about that.… My new job is to be with them, or to be there for them.”

He added, “I don’t want to go to Disneyland, if that’s what you’re asking.”

A recovery fund for Clowery, created by his family, had raised $12,500 of its $100,000 goal as of Tuesday.


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