Boston Marathon Bomber Wanted to Kill 'as Many People as Possible'

PHOTO: Bystanders help an injured woman at the scene of the first explosion on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.
Share
Copy

The bombmakers behind the Boston Marathon explosions weren't looking to scare people, a trauma surgeon with nine years of military experience told ABCNews.com.

They intended to kill, said former Navy surgeon Dr. Gary Schwendig.

"That person or those people did everything they could to create a bomb that damaged and injured as many people as they possibly could," said Schwendig, who now works at Scripps Health in San Diego.

PHOTOS: Messages of Hope After Marathon Bombing

Schwendig said a bomb's shock wave alone was often enough to rupture blood vessels in victims' lungs and other organs in a way that proves fatal, and that debris picked up by explosions – fences, barricades, wood – tends to fly at people, severing limbs. Shrapnel packed into bombs is made to pepper victims with nails and metal ball bearings, severing veins and arteries.

"It's just one more way to hurt people," Schwendig said of the shrapnel Boston doctors said was built into the bombs. "A nail that is tumbling through the body – that nail is an-inch-and-a-half long and it's tumbling and it's going to cut right through that artery."

Still, most of the ball bearings and other pieces of shrapnel will probably remain with the victims for the rest of their lives, he said. Removing the fragments could cause more damage and increase the likelihood of infection, so trauma doctors often leave the shrapnel where it is.

Many victims of the Boston Marathon bombings face possible amputations in the coming days and months, hospitals reported.

Brigham and Women's Hospital has already performed one amputation, and is working to save another patient's injured limb. Massachusetts General Hospital has amputated four limbs so far, and is treating two patients who could face amputation in the coming days. At Tufts Medical Center, doctors have not yet performed any full amputations, but four victims have limb-threatening injuries.

RELATED: Mom Comforts Two Sons Who Each Lost a Leg in Boston Blasts

Dr. Alex Jahangir, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said blast wounds were rare but cause severe, vast injuries. He said he rarely performs amputations within the first day of an injury because it can take 24 hours to determine the full extent of the damage.

Instead, Jahangir performs an initial surgery simply to clean the wound and remove dead bone and muscle. He may later perform an amputation, depending on whether the limb is getting enough blood flow, whether it has enough healthy tissue and whether there's an infection present.

Sometimes, the patient has a choice between amputation and salvaging a limb, Jahangir said. But many times patients choose amputation because the recovery is faster.

Amputees are usually fitted with prosthetics and sent to rehabilitation to learn how to use them within six to eight weeks, Jahangir said. Patients who don't chose amputation often undergo 15 or 20 surgeries, and they may need to wait six to eight months to make sure the bone is healed before they can start walking.

"That process takes two to three years, and at the end of that, they still may wish that'd have gotten it amputated," Jahangir said. "You'll have the leg, but it won't be the same leg you had."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon is seen in this April 16, 2013 file photo. Inset, suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are seen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured.
Elise Amendola/AP Photo; Inset: Lowell Sun, FBI/AP Photo
PHOTO: The first explosion knocked down a runner at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
PHOTO: Pulaski Township Police Sgt. Chad Adam seen here in this undated Facebook photo, went undercover as an Amish woman.
Pulaski Township Police Department/Facebook
PHOTO: The Earths shadow is cast over the surface of the moon as a total lunar eclipse is seen though a Magnolia tree top in the sky over Tyler, Texas, April 15, 2014.
Dr. Scott M. Lieberman/AP Photo