Thursday, October 03, 2013

This child is not Jane Richard

Source: Boston Herald / Matt Patterson

This famous photo, shot two minutes after the the bomb explosions at Boston Marathon, shows how first aiders Matt Patterson and Mike Chase carry a wounded child, looking for an ambulance car. On the rightmost there is a man and a boy arm in arm turning away from them. I portrayed the couple in my previous blog entry as "Father and Son".

It seems to be generally accepted by the media and the public that the child is Jane Richard, the sister of killed Martin Richard. This is impossible, however. The child is certainly not Jane Richard. It is not necessary to harrass the Richard family with this problem; there are sufficient other witnesses to disprove the story told by the media, among them the people who cared for the child in the first fateful seconds, the doctors of Boston's Children's hospital, or Representative Stephen Lynch, a friend of the Richards. The story of this fallacy is an interesting one and possible to deconstruct with the help of these witnesses.

The David Green video and several photos show a group of people right on Boylston Street, gathering around the child and caring for it. As the group is located vis a vis the Atlantic Fish restaurant, I'll call it the Atlantic Fish group. The group existed for less than a minute - a minute none of them will ever forget though - and consisted of:

- an unidentified man about 40 years old ("Father")
- an unidentified boy, probably the man's son, about 13 years old ("Son")
- Matt Patterson
- Mike Chase
- Tracy Monroe

In this snapshot from the David Green video, 1 minute 38 seconds after the second blast, all five of them are visible, from left to right: Mike Chase, Matt Patterson (kneeing), Father, Son, Tracy Monroe (cowering).

While Tracy Monroe said that the child was a girl and identified herself as "Jane" (see appendix), Chase and Patterson initially said it was a boy, as reflected by this headline from Hollywood Life Magazine:

Both of them adopted the "girl" version only belatedly. Before proceeding, I must clarify one point. It is not my intention to blame the exemplarily behaving members of the Atlantic Fish group, especially not Matt Patterson who delivered an impressive performance in order to save the child's life, as documented in the Daniel Green video and also the Fred Land video which shows him jumping over a barrier. The blame is on the media professionals who literally foisted the wrong story on them.

The Child's gender is only a minor point in deconstructing the story, however. The ultimate reason why it's impossible that the Child is Jane Richard is the nature of the injury.

All witnesses say that the Child had lost a leg. In an early interview (see appendix), Matt Patterson discloses some details: "it appeared to be a child, male, between the age of 7 to 9, severly injured, right leg amputated (gesticulates as if he cuts something), about thigh-high..." Later in the interview, he says that he put on the tourniquet "really thigh-high". So the leg was torn off above the knee. In this state the Child was taken into hospital.

Jane Richard's leg however was not torn off by the explosion. On Tuesday night after Marathon, doctors were still undecided if they needed to amputate it, according to Rep. Stephen Lynch. Moreover, Jane's leg was finally amputated below the knee, according to the family's website. On August 15th, the family published a photo of Jane with her new prosthetic leg. She obviously still has her left thigh and knee. In contrast to that, an appalling photo of the Atlantic Fish group's child shows a "thigh-high" amputated leg (Patterson). This is hardly the same child:

A check-up with the Boston hospitals is the logical next step. According to local reports, the victims were treated in six hospitals: Massachusetts General hospital, Boston medical center, Beth Israel medical center, Tufts medical center, Brigham and Women's hospital, and the Children's hospital. An overview of the incoming patients is here.

Most of the injured children, but not all, were brought to the Children's hospital; Boston medical center reports two children, one of them a 5-year old, heavily injured. For the other hospitals no children are reported, not meaning there were none.

The number of children brought to the Children's hospital varies from 7 to 9, depending on the report. Also the age of the patients varies slightly, probably because it is mostly estimated. Among them only two patients are potential candidates for being Jane Richard or the Child. The Boston Globe reported on April 16th - here's a snapshot:

The article seems to have been edited the same day. The gender-neutral "9-year old who lost a leg" and "10 year-old who suffered deep shrapnel wounds" underwent a slight metamorphosis - here's the mirror version on

Now we have a girl and a boy, all of a sudden. A list of the other patients at the hospital is here. None of them qualifies for the heavy wounds of Jane or the Child. The "10 year-old boy with deep shrapnel wounds" can quickly be identified as Aaron Hern, who was actually 11. He was standing in front of the Forum and indeed a patient of the Children's hospital.

This leaves the "9-year old (girl)" the only remaining candidate for Jane or the Child. Is it possible that they are one and the same person? Dr. David P. Mooney, the hospital's trauma director and spokesman remembers the poor patient two months later:

Doctors at Boston Children's Hospital had only a few minutes to prepare for the youngest victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before paramedics rushed the first patient into the emergency department. One child was burned and covered in soot with a tourniquet compressing a mangled leg, said David P. Mooney, MD, MPH, a surgeon and director of the hospital's trauma center who was on duty that day.

Covered in soot, tourniquet, mangled leg - this is a perfect description of the Atlantic Fish group's child. And especially the last symptom doesn't consort well with what Stephen Lynch related about Jane Richard - that the doctors still hadn't decided on Tuesday if her leg had to be amputated. Jane Richard was also brought to Children's hospital though, according to the family's website.

If the Child is not Jane Richard, this is proof that Jane was not at the Forum, and, because the family was together, Martin neither. So the question is highly relevant for one central accusation against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: that his bag killed Martin Richard. If the prosecution has to drop this point, this could constitute a reason to mitigate the death penalty. Tsarnaev therefore has a lively interest to obtain statements from - among others - these persons:

- Matt Patterson
- Mike Chase
- Tracy Monroe
- Unidentified man (Father)
- Unidentified boy (Son)
- Stephen Lynch
- Dr. David Mooney and the staff of Children's hospital



This video is a good summary of three interviews with Patterson:

In the first interview (CBS), the off-voice explains that there was a boy with a missing leg.

In the second interview, the only unredacted one, Patterson goes more into detail: "it appeared to be a child, male, between the age of 7 to 9, severly injured, right leg amputated (gesticulates as if he cuts something), about thigh-high..." ... "...immediately applied a tourniquet to the right leg, really thigh-high..."

In the third interview (AP), which has the David Green video embedded, the off-voice explains that the child was Jane Richard, that she had lost a leg and told him her name was Jane. The contribution of Patterson to this meandering story is small - he only says "she" instead of "he".

Finally on CNN, Anderson Cooper put the desired words into Patterson's mouth:
COOPER: Well, since Boylston Street reopened, that's the memorial that has sprouted up, so many people leaving flowers, mementos, signs and cards, just remembering, pausing to remember those who lost their lives and those whose lives have been forever changed.
The Boston bombings took a heavy toll on one family; 8-year-old Martin Richard was killed in the blast, his mother and sister badly wounded. The Richards might have lost their little girl, Jane, if it hadn't been for a firefighter-paramedic from the Lynn Fire Department, who was off duty, having a drink with his girlfriend when the bomb blast went off.

He rushed in; he saw the little girl and he saved her life right after the second blast.

I asked him about those moments.

COOPER: So it was really the second blast when you realized...

MATT PATTERSON, FIREFIGHTER-PARAMEDIC: Second blast, yes, that took all doubts out of my mind. And I immediately -- I immediately started running towards the front, yelling for people to get back, get to the kitchen, get away from the windows, you know, not pushing people back, but, you know, at the same time, I was making it known that I was going forward and they were going the other way.

I get out to the patio and I don't know if it was just tunnel vision or fate or whatever it was, but I just looked and focused, and I just saw this one child in the middle of the street, just sitting there with this dazed, shocked look. Even from where I was, I could just tell this child was hurt.

COOPER: You could see her face.

PATTERSON: Yes, I could just -- yes, I could just tell. I mean, it's just -- like I said, that's why I don't know if it was tunnel vision or what, I just -- I zoomed in. Try and call it training or intuition or whatever, something was horribly wrong.

COOPER: Because it's pandemonium.


PATTERSON: It is. You know, it's hard to explain, but it is pandemonium. But you know, once you get something in your mind and once you focus on it, like that's the task at hand, because I don't know if it's training or if it's just the fact that I was distracted by just this one child, but it had my full attention.

COOPER: So you ran over to this little girl.

PATTERSON: I ran over to this little girl, who initially I thought was a boy. I knelt down, I you know, expressed, "Hi, I'm Matt; I'm here to help you." (Inaudible) a paramedic. I was like, you know, we're going to be all right. We're going to be OK.

Tracy Monroe is being interviewed on this video:


TM: The crowd was happy, everything was very celebratory, and out of the blue we heard the first explosion.

OFF: Tracy Monroe started running, then because of the children she turned and went back.

TM: I saw a little girl in the of held her head in my hands and just rubbed her and tried to comfort her and hold her hand and tried just keep her talking to me. And I asked her what her name was and she said, she just looked up to me and said "Jane".

OFF: Jane Richard lay stunned, her leg torn away.

TM: I just imagine that if my daughter were injured like that and I couldn't get to her....just...just the comfort, you know, she's just a baby. She was so badly injured and so scared. But she was so incredibly brave.

OFF: Only a few feet away, eight year old Martin - not moving.

TM: I saw him...(sighs deep) and at this point I was pretty sure that he was gone.

OFF: Tracy feels a bond to the entire Richard family, hopes to meet them, especially Jane.

TM: I'll never forget them and I'll never forget any of them - that litte girl. She was so brave - I'll never forget her little face

OFF: Jack Harper, WCVB NewsCenter 5.