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Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman on suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev: ‘He’s dead, and I’m still here’

04.26.13 at 9:18 am ET
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Jeff Bauman (right) gives a birthday gift to fellow Boston Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran on Tuesday at Boston Medical Center. (Celeste & Sydney Recovery Fund)

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about his harrowing experience and the aftermath.

Bauman, who lost both his legs and suffered hearing damage when the first bomb exploded near the finish line while he was waiting for his girlfriend to run by, said the recovery process is “going fast, but it hurts every day.”

Bauman is credited with having helped investigators by identifying one of the suspects shortly after the attack, despite his condition. The 27-year-old Costco employee described what he saw and helped a sketch artist put together a drawing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

“I was still conscious when I was being transported from the blast site to the hospital,” Bauman said. “The whole time when I was in the hospital I was giving descriptions of the guy — the first guy, the guy with the hat and the glasses, the Aviators, and the 5 o’clock shadow [Tamerlan Tsarnaev]. I was just real adamant about it. When I did come through out of the first operation, I guess, the FBI was all around my room.”

Bauman said Tsarnaev stood out to him because he seemed out of place.

“I was with my girlfriend’s roommates and we were having a great time. We were watching the runners, everyone was having a great time,” Bauman said. “And just that one guy, he didn’t look like he was having a good time. He was right next to me at that point and he had a bag and he had his glasses. He had kind of like a leather-like sweatshirt type of deal, and it was warm out. He was just an odd guy, he struck me as odd. That’s what I remember of him. Next thing you know I hear fireworks and I’m on the ground. … He was there, and then he was gone, and then boom.”

Added Bauman: “He just didn’t seem right. You know how you size somebody up. I just looked at him. I was like, what’s this guy’s problem?”

Jeff Bauman is wheeled off to get medical attention with assistance from Carlos Arredondo (in cowboy hat) after the Boston Marathon bombing. (AP)

After the explosion, Carlos Arredondo — the man in the cowboy hat — rushed over to aid victims. Arredondo helped get Bauman into a wheelchair and to an ambulance.

“I saw him, he was running around helping everybody,” said Bauman, who has been visited in the hospital by Arredondo and texts frequently with him. “And then when it came to helping me, he helped me. He was crazy. He was going nuts helping everybody. … His adrenaline was definitely, definitely kicking.”

Asked if he thought he would survive, Bauman said: “Not really. Actually, when Carlos picked me up and threw me into the wheelchair, then I was like, ‘All right, maybe I am going to make it.’ But before that, no way. I thought I was done.”

After realizing the damage done to his body, Bauman explained that he went through a range of emotions and tried to focus on getting through the agony.

Said Bauman: “I just toughed it up at that point. … I was definitely hurting, but I was sad that someone would actually do that.”

Bauman said he’s followed some of the television coverage of the suspects, but not as much as most people. When he learned that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been killed after being run over by his brother, Dzhokhar, during a shootout with police last week, Bauman recalled, “What I thought was, he’s dead and I’m still here.”

Added Bauman of his feelings about the terrorists: “I’m pissed, obviously, but, I mean, it’s in the past, you know? You only look forward.”

Bauman said he plans to be somewhere along the Boston Marathon route next year, as his girlfriend plans to run again, but he’s not sure if he would go back to the finish line. In the meantime, he’s grateful just to have survived this ordeal.

Said Bauman: “I had a lot to live for before, and I’ve got a lot to live for now.”

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