David Yepez is an athletic kid who loves wrestling and playing soccer at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, where he is a freshman. He’s also an honor roll student, but if there’s one thing his dad is most proud of, it’s his heart.
“He is a wonderful young man,” says Luis Yepez of Andover.
Indeed, when David, 15, was released from the hospital after being treated for multiple injuries suffered in the Marathon bombings, he insisted on visiting his friend Aaron Hern, who was still in the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital.
So David’s father took him straight from the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center to Children’s. Somehow, David felt responsible for not protecting his friend, telling his father: “I’m older, I’m bigger, and I don’t think it was fair that he was more injured than I was.”
At the site of the second bombing, just feet from where 8-year-old Martin Richard was killed, David suffered a torn ear drum, second-degree burns on his arm, and had a 3-inch piece of shrapnel embedded 6 inches deep in his leg. His family and Aaron’s had gathered to watch Aaron’s mom run her first Boston Marathon. The boys’ fathers, Luis Yepez and Alan Hern, roomed together at the US Naval Academy and remain close even though the Herns live in California.
At Children’s, the boys shared their experiences; both had had their clothing cut off by medics, even Aaron’s Nike socks. Afterward, David asked his parents to take him to Dick’s Sporting Goods, where he bought Aaron a new pair of socks with his own money.
David returned to St. John’s Prep for two hours on Thursday, to ease back into it. He was all smiles when his parents picked him up and looked forward to his first full day on April 26. He’s looking forward to playing soccer again, and his doctors say in a couple of months, he should be good to go.
Bella English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org