Boston Marathon Photo Helps Son Find Two Injured Parents

PHOTO: Medical workers aid an injured man at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, April 15, 2013.

Richard Whalley, a 25-year-old CEO of a company that makes medical devices for diabetics, got a frantic phone call from his older brother right after the Boston Marathon bombings. He had seen a photo on Reddit of his bloodied father being carried away in a wheelchair.

The Boston Globe/Associated Press photo had quickly gone around the world.

But when the brothers called around to hospitals, there was no record of their parents, Ann and Eric Whalley, both 65 and recently retired. In the chaos that brought 175 victims to Boston-area hospitals, the couple had been registered under the wrong names.

"There was a possibility my mom was dead," said Whalley, who lives in Cambridge, Mass. "I knew she was older and pretty close to the blast."

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Boston Marathon Explosion

Whalley immediately posted a message on his Facebook page: "This is my dad in the picture in this link: I have no idea where my mum is. They were both bombed. I'm trying to figure out what hospital they are at. Can you help?"

Eric and Ann Whalley, both 65, were seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.

And help they did. Within 10 minutes Facebook friends -- and friends of friends -- made calls to each hospital and found his parents at two different medical centers. Ann Whalley was at Brigham and Women's Faulkner campus at Harvard Medical School; Eric Whalley was at the Longwood campus in Jamaica Plain.

"It was amazing," said Whalley, who talked to early today after just three hours sleep last night. "Multiple people called the hospitals. The third time they got a call [at Brigham and Women's] they decided to double check the records."

"They got hit pretty bad," he said.

Brigham and Women's Hospital has treated a total of 35 patients related to Monday's explosions. Ten patients remain in the hospital and four are listed in critical condition.

The Whalleys, who are hikers and like to walk around the city, were at the marathon finish line when the bombs exploded.

In the last three days, the couple has had nearly a dozen surgeries between them to remove multiple ball bearings and nails. Eric Whalley was hit in the skull and eye and may lose his sight and perhaps have brain damage. Ann Whalley got hit in the legs and has a badly mangled right foot.

"They were just there to see the action," said their son. "They did last year, as well. They were both runners and are pretty active for their age."

Just yesterday, his mother was moved to the Longwood campus on the same ward as his father, making life easier for the brothers. The hospital gave the Whalley brothers an apartment so they can be close to their parents.

His brother Chris, 34, lives in Salisbury, Mass., close to the New Hampshire border.

"My Dad had multiple surgeries but they are monitoring him closely to make sure everything has stabilized," he said.

His father had a blood clot on one side of his brain. He also had orthopedic surgery on his right leg. "The feet are in especially bad shape," said Whalley. "Part of the right foot was blown off."

In 1990, his parents emigrated from England to Colorado and eventually got U.S. citizenship. They moved to Charlestown, Mass., in 1998. A former professor of pharmacology, Eric Whalley had just retired from a job in biotechnology.

Just Wednesday night, Whalley had a conversation with his father, who gained consciousness for the first time.

"He was just barely talking, but he was understanding what we said," according to his son. "I told him his photo was on the front page of the Daily Mail [a newspaper in Britain.] He started laughing."

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