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April 17, 2013

'In the blink of an eye,' Yepez goes from spectator to victim

BOSTON — The Yepez family of Andover, with friends from California, was just ahead of Boston Marathon mile marker 26 when the first bomb went off at 2:50 p.m.

They didn’t know it yet, but in 15 seconds, their lives would be changed dramatically and a son seriously injured.

“Where we were standing, you clearly heard the first explosion. You could see it. It caused everyone to look, and everyone was like, ‘What was that?’” Luis Yepez said. “You’re looking at color. You’re looking at the runners. And in the blink of an eye, you don’t hear anything. You don’t see anything. It’s just a flash — and when you open your eyes, it’s a scene of devastation.”

The air was full of dust and smoke after the second blast. Bottles and chairs were all over the place. And amid the debris were “people in horrific conditions, missing limbs,” Yepez said.

Among the injured were his 15-year-old son, David, and a 12-year-old friend of David’s, who had flown in from the West Coast just to see the race.

David was not far from 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, one of three killed in the attack.

“We were approximately 5 to 8 feet from the blast, and the way we were lined up, standing to root on the runners, David and his friend took the brunt of that explosion,” his father said. “He was thrown to the ground. He suffered some second-degree burns to his left arm, a small portion of the side of his face, and ruptured his ear drums.”

David, a freshman at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, is being treated at the Floating Hospital for Children in Boston for those injuries. He also had surgery yesterday to remove a 1-by-3-inch piece of shrapnel from his leg, according to Luis.

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