Larry Hittinger and Michael Ward first encountered each other in the chaotic aftermath of the Marathon bombings, when they helped a young, injured boy and carried him to EMTs.
In the month since, Hittinger, an ironworker from Melrose whose formal medical training ended with a first aid class 35 years ago, said he hadn’t talked to anyone who, like him, ran toward the explosions to help.
“I always wondered who the other people were,” Hittinger said. “I always wondered who was there, who helped.”
At a Dorchester event to raise money for victims of the Bombing on Sunday, Hittinger officially met Ward, a Massport fire lieutenant and EMT from Charlestown.
A friend pointed out Ward to Hittinger, who realized he was looking at the man who was next to him in a widely circulated photo in which the two are helping to carry a young, injured boy covered in a white cloth after the bombing.
Hittinger and Ward spoke for about an hour Sunday. Together, they tried to piece together what happened in the minutes after two bombs exploded on Boylston Street on April 15, killing three and injuring more than 260.
When the first bomb exploded, Ward had just found a spot near a barrier close to Fairfield and Boylston streets and was cheering for runners. Hittinger had just finished a meal at Atlantic Fish Co., next to the location of the second bomb.
Both men said they were afraid a third bomb could explode. Hittinger said he ran down Boylston Street, checking manhole covers to see if any looked like they were recently moved, perhaps to plant a bomb. Then they turned to the victims, who were bleeding, burnt, covered in soot, and terrified. “You couldn’t tell if [victims] were black or white, you couldn’t tell if [victims] were boy or girl,” Hittinger said.
Ward made a decision. “I thought, I could die here, but I’m not leaving these people,” he said.
Ward said he saw Hittinger, calm and focused, and assumed he was a police detective.
“I thought you were in public safety or something,” Ward said. “The way you reacted, your head was very deliberate.”
Hittinger stayed with the injured boy they carried in the photo, and Ward helped other victims. Ward said he would like to meet more of the victims he saw and helped, but that he wouldn’t want to be a bother.
Ward and Hittinger exchanged contact information and hugged. “God bless what you did,” Ward said. “I’ve been looking for you. You saved a lot of people that day.”Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.