Dad of Boston bombing victim: 'It was the last time I saw my son alive'

Story highlights

  • Father describes the moment when he realized 8-year-old Martin Richard wouldn't survive
  • The second day of the Boston Marathon bombings trial is underway
  • Survivor Jeff Bauman recounts how he lost his legs in the attack

Boston (CNN)Bill Richard knew his son wasn't going to make it. But the father of three told his wife he couldn't stay by 8-year-old Martin's side.

The boy's body was torn apart by an explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. His skin had changed color. A crowd hovered over him, frantically trying to help, but he was dying.
Speaking from the witness stand at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial on Thursday, Richard told jurors he was faced with a heartbreaking choice.
    "I knew in my head that I needed to act quickly, or we might not only lose Martin," he said. "We might lose Jane, too."
    Moments after the blast, Richard had stumbled toward Jane, his 7-year-old daughter. His pants and sneakers were torn apart. His legs felt like they were on fire. He could barely hear. And the air smelled "vile," he said, like gunpowder, sulfur and burned hair. But he soon realized the situation was much worse for his daughter.
    "She tried to get up and she fell. That was when I noticed her leg," he said. "She didn't have it. It was blown off."
    So Richard left one son to die near the marathon finish line, and shielded his other son's eyes from the carnage as they raced to the hospital, hoping that doctors could save his daughter's life.
    "It was," Richard said Thursday, "the last time I saw my son alive -- barely."

    Defense tries to stop testimony

    Richard's description of the explosion's horrifying aftermath capped a day of dramatic testimony as survivors shared their stories in the second day of the high-profile trial.
    Tsarnaev's attorneys admit that he carried out the 2013 attacks, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others at the marathon. A fourth person, an MIT police officer, was ambushed and killed in his patrol car three days after the bombings as Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, allegedly ran from police.
    Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after a gunbattle with police. And now, his younger brother sits in court facing 30 federal charges related to the bombings. His attorneys say he was influenced by his slain brother to participate in the attacks.
    They argued Thursday that now isn't the right time for jurors to hear the string of harrowing stories from survivors of the explosions, arguing that testimony should be part of a later phase of the trial, when jurors will decide what penalty Tsarnaev should face. But the judge sided with prosecutors, who argued the testimony was necessary to support their indictment.
    On Thursday, jurors relived the moments after the marathon bombings through the eyes of some of the people most affected by the blasts.
    Defense attorneys didn't ask them any questions.

    'I could see my bone'

    Jeff Bauman was suspicious as soon as he noticed a black backpack on the ground near the finish line.
    "I thought it was weird," he said Thursday. "If you are at the airport, if you see any unattended luggage, you notify authorities."
    But this was Boston, he thought, where stuff like that doesn't happen. Still, he told a friend they should move.
    An explosion came two seconds later.
    "I saw a flash, heard like three pops and I was on the ground," Bauman said from the witness stand Thursday. "At first I opened my eyes and saw the sky. The first thought was, that was a big firework."
    Bauman's ears were ringing, and everything was muffled, but he heard the screams.
    The first bomb had exploded.
    "I looked down and saw my legs, and it was pure carnage," he told jurors. "I could see my bone."
    Bauman testified about becoming aware of his injuries -- burns, wounds on his back, and his legs.
    "I knew my legs were gone. I know that instantly," he said.
    He kept repeating to himself, "This is messed up, this is messed up, this is messed up."
    Then the second explosion.
    "We are under attack," he thought to himself. All he wanted to do was call his mom.

    Aiding at the scene

    When Boston Police Officer Lauren Woods saw people running by, screaming, she ran against the grain, toward Boylston Street, the last leg on the marathon route.
    One of the first victims Woods came across was Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University.
    Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University, was one of three people killed during the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
    Lu was vomiting profusely, Woods recalled Thursday. Others were already performing CPR on her, and the officer attempted to clear Lu's airway.
    "I smelled the residue of smoke," Woods said. "Smelled like fireworks, cannons."
    Paramedics arrived, and eventually told Woods the young woman was not going to make it and they had to move on to other people.
    Lu became one of the three fatalities at the scene.

    A 'horror movie'

    It smelled like gunpowder, Alan Hern told the jury, and "kind of felt like we were underwater."
    Hern's wife -- who was pregnant -- was running the race. He found her uninjured, but hysterical from the explosions and ensuing chaos, he said. There were powder marks on her jacket.
    Hern, a high school football coach, then went searching for his 11-year-old son, Aaron.
    A figure covered in black soot and hair standing straight up caught Hern's eye, and he knew it was Aaron, he testified. His son's left thigh was cratered, mangled flesh and blood, Hern said.
    "It was like something you'd see in a war movie," he said. "His eyebrows were singed and his hair was sticking straight up."
    Another of Thursday's witnesses, Roseann Sdoia, also referred to it as something out of a movie.
    Before she hit the ground from the blast, she said, it registered in her mind that she had lost her leg.
    "When I looked down, my leg was tucked under me, but blood was pouring out," she told jurors.
    In front of her lay a socked foot.
    She started thinking -- Did I wear socks today? She decided she hadn't worn socks that day. It was someone else's foot.
    "It was almost like I was starring in a horror movie," she said, "as was everybody else around me."
    Doctors had to amputate her leg below the knee.

    Devastating injuries

    Traveling from the marathon finish line to the hospital, Bill Richard went from one terrifying scene to another.
    "You know it's not going to be good when you see the look of horror on doctors' faces," he told the court Thursday. "Jane was devastatingly injured."
    Doctors amputated her left leg below the knee and removed more than 20 shrapnel pieces from her body, he said.
    Richard soon learned that, as he'd feared, Martin didn't survive the bombing.
    An image taken from Facebook shows Martin Richard, the 8-year-old killed during the explostions at the Boston Marathon, holding a sign calling for peace.
    His wife, Denise, was also hospitalized after the attack. She lost sight in one eye.
    The father said his own injuries were much less severe than the wounds many other victims suffered. The ringing in his ears never stops, and he lost some of his hearing.
    But Richard said he could still hear the lawyer questioning him at Thursday's trial. He can still hear music.
    And the most important thing.
    "I can still hear," he said, "the beautiful voices of my family."