Friday, July 10, 2015

Official "Forum video": where is Jacqui Webb?

Chitose Suzuki/Boston Herald

Jacqui Webb is a survivor of the second explosion. She was very close to the bomb and suffered heavy injuries, but didn't lose a limb. She was at the Forum restaurant with her fiancé Paul Norden and some friends from Stoneham.

Initial reports say that the Norden brothers pushed her onto the street after the first blast, but this is quite obviously invented by the media to have a hero story to tell. After all, there was the line of metal barricades in the way. Jacqui Webb herself declares in this "Flipping Boston" video clip that she was thrown through the air, which is confirmed by a report in the New York Times:
The blast propelled Ms. Webb into the street, where she landed on her hands and knees. Her hands were burning so hot that her rings began to melt, and her right leg was gouged with shrapnel. She was afraid that the bomb had contained chemicals, so she stripped down to her underwear. A firefighter pulled off his sweatshirt for her. Others draped her in tablecloths.
In another report, she says:
"I remember the rings on my fingers were burning. A cop met me on Boylston, and he walked me across the street and sat me down. I had a large burn on my leg, and two large holes in it. You could see the muscle and down to the bone. My boyfriend was across the street.”
These statements make it possible to identify her on the available post-blast footage, namely the photos of David Silverman who has pictured a woman taking off her smoldering shirt in the middle of Boylston street, 7 seconds after the blast:

She can also be identified on another Silverman photo, if fairly blurred. The photo was taken only 2 seconds after the blast and shows her on the street while trying to get up (just left of the Spartan runner):

She then hobbles over to the other side of Boylston street (in the red rectangle) where she finally gets some aid.

The young woman in the photos is clearly Jacqui Webb. Based on the Forum video and the official narrative that the bomb exploded left of the tree, she must have been blown off a respectable distance of about 15 feet. This allows it to pinpoint her last position prior to the blast quite precisely. In the diagram, the hatched area around the tree depicts the area where she might have been and where we have to look for her in the video. 

And indeed, there is one - and only one - candidate for being Jacqui Webb in the Forum video: a woman with long dark hair, coming in from the left at 14:49:34 according to the clock, i.e. nine seconds after the first blast. She moves rapidly in front of Paul Norden and then towards the barriers, and in this moment the second bomb explodes. I have highlighted her location (head) by a yellow rectangle. The still is taken immediately before the second explosion.

The next still is taken immediately before the first blast, and the same place is now occupied by one of the girls seen at the barriers in the pre-blast photos from across the street (she moves away six seconds later):

 It is this girl here:

So the woman in the first still was directly at the barrier when the bomb exploded, at the same place as the girl seconds before. In the diagram, I have denoted her position with a light green circle and "JW", under the assumption that she is Jacqui Webb.

When "JW" passes Paul Norden in the Forum video (14:49:35), it seems indeed possible that he pushes her a little bit, thus confirming her identity. But then she moves towards the barriers by her own while her boyfriend moves off to the right. So the notion that he heroically saved her by pushing her out of the way of the blast is way exaggerated.

Given the questionable character of the Forum video, a critical analysis of the situation is essential. Let's have another look at the diagram.

JW was standing directly at the barrier that was blown across the street (barrier 3). Is there a physical explanation why the pressure wave blew her away in an entirely different direction than the barrier? It doesn't look so. Being so close to her, the barrier also looks like a serious obstacle for being "propelled in the air", as she told the New York Times.

Given that the woman in the Forum video is supposed to be Jacqui Webb it seems to be another case for someone whose actual pre-blast location is not correctly mapped in the video. This adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the video is manipulated. Jacqui Webb neither testified as a witness at the trial nor did she deliver a victim impact statement. She almost fell into oblivion as a victim of the second blast.