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Former Patriot lineman helps Va. family after Boston bombs explode

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Posted at 9:05 PM, Apr 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-18 09:40:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—There were 654 Virginia runners—52 from Richmond--competing in the Boston Marathon, and hundreds of spectators from the state on hand to root for friends and family.

When news of the bombings broke, the looming challenge faced by everyone was to confirm that friends and family were okay.

Since Monday, CBS 6 has been tracking an image seen on Twitter, taken by Bill Greene with the Boston Globe. In the image two young women, one in a University of Richmond sweatshirt, flank former offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi as he carries an injured woman to safety.

The woman is Julie Wittich, who lives in Northern Virginia. Her leg was broken in the blast.

Video of the incident shows Andruzzi, dressed in a blue shirt, rushing to help Wittich. He was at the marathon, near the finish line with his wife, cheering for the runners representing his organization.

Maddie Wittich, right, in the red University of Richmond sweatshirt was with her mother and sister when the bombs exploded. Lineman Joe Andruzzi rushed to help them. (via WUSA)

Maddie Wittich, right, in the red University of Richmond sweatshirt was with her mother and sister when the bombs exploded. Lineman Joe Andruzzi rushed to help them. (via WUSA)

The Collegian reports that the young woman seen wearing the red sweatshirt is Maddie Wittich, an incoming freshman who will run track and field at University of Richmond. Wittich, a senior at West Springfield High School in Northern Virginia, was watching the marathon with her mother and sister.

They were there to watch Ernest Wittich, Maddie's father, run the marathon on his 49th birthday.

The family was located 15-feet away from the second blast.

Police told everyone to run in case there were more bombs, but Julie Wittich told WUSA that she could not run, could not walk.

She said her daughters helped carry her for blocks, and then Andruzzi helped carry her the rest of the way to an ambulance.

"They sat me on a curb and a Harvard med student came over," Julie Wittich told WUSA. "One of the paramedics said 'Ma'am your leg is broken and then you have to go to the hospital. I didn't want to leave my kids."

But Maddie insisted. Now she and her younger sisters were on their own in a strange city, at dangerous time, but they eventually found their father, who was fine and they came home to Springfield yesterday.

"We are so fortunate... so many people aren't," said Julie Wittich .

Andruzzi tweeted several times later, “Jen and I are safe. Thanks for all the tweets. Our thoughts and prayers are will all the victims and their families impacted at today's Boston Marathon. Thank you to all our emergency personnel."

The Collegian writes that so far there are no reports of UR students injured.