Carlos Arredondo - The Angel of Boylston Street
Aftermath of the 2013 boston marathon bombing show people helping others from the scene – Aaron “tango” Tang, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On April 15, 2013, the Boston Marathon was transformed from a scene of athletic triumph to one of tragedy when two bombs exploded near the finish line. In the midst of the chaos and carnage, one man’s actions stood out, a vivid testament to the capacity for courage and compassion in the face of unspeakable horror. This is the story of Carlos Arredondo, a man who became known as the Angel of Boylston Street, whose life had already been marked by profound personal tragedies before he became an unexpected hero during the Boston Marathon bombing.

Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant, had faced more than his share of heartache. He had lost his eldest son, Alexander, to the war in Iraq in 2004, a loss that devastated him and led to a very public and painful grieving process. In 2011, he faced another blow with the suicide of his other son, Brian. These tragedies could have left him broken, but instead, they forged in him a deep empathy and a commitment to peace and humanitarian work.

On that fateful April day, Carlos was not just a spectator at the marathon; he was there to honor his sons, handing out American flags and cheering on the runners. When the bombs went off, his proximity to the explosion meant he was among the first to witness the aftermath. The scene was one of utter devastation – smoke, screams, blood, and confusion. While the instinct for many might have been to run away, Carlos ran straight into the fray.

Carlos’s bright cowboy hat made him stand out in the many photographs and videos that captured the moments after the bombing. But it was his actions, not his attire, that captured the world’s attention. He immediately began helping the wounded, using his own clothes and materials at hand to make tourniquets and apply pressure to wounds. His most notable act was helping save the life of Jeff Bauman, a young man who had lost both legs in the explosion. Carlos quickly used a makeshift tourniquet and, with others, rushed Jeff in a wheelchair to medical personnel, a moment immortalized in a photograph that became one of the defining images of the tragedy.

Carlos’s actions that day were driven by an incredible sense of compassion and a refusal to be a passive bystander. His past tragedies did not paralyze him; they propelled him into action, a poignant example of how profound loss can transform into an equally profound force for good.

In the aftermath of the bombing, Carlos was hailed as a hero, but he was reluctant to accept this label. For him, he was just doing what he felt was necessary, what he hoped any human being would do in such a situation. His humility and continued commitment to peace and community service have only added to his legacy.

The story of Carlos Arredondo is a moving narrative about the power of human resilience and altruism. It’s about how personal grief can transform into a universal sense of compassion and how, even in the darkest moments, the light of human courage and kindness can shine through. Carlos’s actions during the Boston Marathon bombing remind us of the impact one person can have and the hope that exists even in the midst of tragedy. His life, marked by both personal loss and public heroism, continues to inspire and challenge us to act with courage and empathy in our own lives.

Don Leith

By Don Leith

Retired from the real world. A love of research left over from my days on the debate team in college long ago led me to work on this website. Granted, not all these stories are "fun" or even "trivial" But they all are either weird, unusual or even extraordinary. Working on this website is "fun" in any case. Hope you enjoy it!