Wednesday, April 17, 2013
CARLOS ARREDONDO: THE MAN IN THE COWBOY HAT
The image and story of Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman have been seared into my
consciousness forever. Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat, trying desperately to save a
person who, in an instant, became just like him: damaged, broken, and forever scarred by
Bauman, just 27-years old, was waiting for his girlfriend to cross the finish line in the Boston
Marathon. Turns out, he was in right place at the wrong time, as a bomb exploded, ripping his
legs apart. Arredondo, who was sitting across the way in the VIP section, rushed to his side
and saw wounds on Bauman that were as big as the emotional ones that ripped out his heart
nine years earlier.
In 2004, Arrandondo's 20-year-old son, Alex, was killed during the war in Iraq. It was August
25th, the same date as the elder Arrendondo was born. That was too cruel, too painful, and too
much for Arrendondo to handle. Three Marines came to his home in Florida to notify Carlos
of his son's passing. Carlos was so distraught, he jumped into the van of the Marines, doused
himself with gasoline and lit a torch. He suffered second and third-degree burns on 25 percent
of his body.
Seven years later, as Carlos was coming out of his battle with depression, his other son, Brian,
lost his fight against his. Brian was depressed, the loss of his brother too much to overcome.
At just 24-years-old, Brian took his own life.
They say no parent should ever have to bury a child, to have to say good-bye to two of them,
especially when they are so young, is beyond cruel. The guilt, thoughts, and questions about
whether you had done enough to prevent a son from committing suicide would be too much to
bear for most people, but as we saw on Monday, Carlos, the man in the cowboy hat, is not like
According to reports, he talked to Bauman as the lower parts of his legs had been blown apart.
The injury to Louisville's Kevin Ware was minor compared to what Arredondo was seeing.
But unlike Ware's teammates, he did not cry and turn away as an injured man lay helplessly
on the ground. He wrapped a tourniquet around Bauman's leg to stop the bleeding and lifted
him into a wheelchair. Shocked, his face ashen, Bauman was in jeopardy of bleeding out.
Arrendondo reached down and pinched the artery in his leg to help stop the blood from
Bauman made it to the hospital where doctors saved his life, but couldn't do the same for
his legs. Both were amputated, his life changed forever. Bauman and Arredondo lost something
they can never get back. Arredondo lost two sons, Bauman lost both of his legs.
Arrendondo somehow found the strength to move on and focused on becoming a peace activist
and working with families who lost loved ones to suicide. Odds are, Bauman will find depression
staring him in the face. Losing both legs, will be a major adjustment and one that will test his
resolve and resiliency. But he only has to look at the man who helped save his life for inspiration.
I can't help but think how the picture of Arredondo helping wheel Bauman in his chair reminds
me of Dick Hoyt , who has pushed his son through more than 30 marathons in a wheelchair. The strength, character, and heart of Hoyt can't be measured , but his courage and selflessness were immortalized in a statue that was unveiled before the race.
Perhaps, when Boston gets pasts the horrific tragedy that happened on April 15, 2013, they can
add a statue of Arredondo and Bauman to its streets. They are two men, linked forever like Dick
Hoyt and his son. They are a symbol of heart, courage, and perseverance that never should be forgotten.