EXCLUSIVE: Parents of Boston Marathon victim reflect on tragedy

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April 10, 2014, 11:13 pm
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(NECN: Latoyia Edwards) - Childhood pictures of Krystle Campbell show nothing but smiles - which is exactly how her family continues to remember her, focusing less on the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon that stole the 29 year old's life.

Her parents, Patty and Bill, shared exclusively with NECN personal stories about Krystle, like the unique spelling of her name.

"I noticed the spelling on TV, and I said, 'Oh,' - Krystle Carrington was playing, and I was, 'Oh I should take that spelling," Patty said.

Krystle's grandparents own a house in Somerville, Mass., where she and her older brother were raised surrounded by family. It was from her grandmother that she developed a need to be neat and clean.

"She'd wake up in the morning, okay, and started coming down or doing anything else. She'd be out of bed about three seconds and she would have to make her bed. She wouldn't leave the room unless that bed was made, and I'm talking Army-style - tucked in, cuffed - then she'd turn and she'd come down. She was just amazing," Bill said.

"And she didn't get that from her mother," Patty adds.

As an adult, Krystle demonstrated her caring nature many times over always on her dad to rehab his bad back.

"I lied to her one day, and she busted me. She was coming up the stairs and she was on the phone and she said, 'Yeah, you look like you did your exercises, dad.' I was still in my pajamas, you know, so I never let that happen again," Bill said, laughing.

Then there was the time that Krystle turned down an apartment with her friends to be near her recently widowed grandmother, who was recovering from colon surgery.

"And then she lived with me after I got sick," Wilma Campbell said. "She thought maybe I would need her, so she lived here with me a little over two years."

Patty and Bill saw their beloved Krystle every day until her death on April 15, 2013.

She started the day at a Red Sox game with friends, then headed over to the marathon finish line.

Patty was at work and Bill was at home watching TV when the blasts went off.

"My son thought my daughter was at that Red Sox game, and we tried to call her, and that's how it went down, and my son said to me, 'Mom, I have a funny feeling that Krystle is involved in this.' My son had a sixth sense, and he said 'I keep trying to call this number and finally I got through to a nurse.' The nurse picked up the phone, and then they told us that she was in surgery, so we were under the assumption that she was having surgery and then [at] a quarter to three that morning, they told us they got the bleeding under control, that we could go in for a brief minute. And then we're just going to leave it at that. We found out there was an error," Patty recalls, her voice choking with emotion.

That error was that Krystle Campbell's friend Karen Rand was carrying Krystle's purse at the time of the bombing, leading first responders to misidentify Karen as Krystle at the hospital.

Karen endured life-altering injuries, but survived. Krystle did not.

"After thinking for 15 hours that your daughter is going through all of this stuff, but she's not, she's gone," Bill said. "A parent should never have to bury their child, because it's the hardest thing that any parent has to go through, it's to lose a child. I don't care if it's a newborn or or 6 years or 30 years or 40 years. It's very difficult and it's hard."

What has helped the Campbells cope has been letters, cards and support from around the nation and the world.

But one letter from California was one they never expected.

"The woman was from California and I guess my daughter was right at the barrier, and the lady was behind her, and I guess the young lady says, or her daughter said to her, mother or whatever, that their sister was going to be turning the corner onto Boylston Street, and so my daughter overheard this, and my daughter says, 'Well, you know, our runner is not going to be here for a few more minutes, why don't you step in front of us, so you know, you'll be able to take a picture or wave them on or whatever, and then when our runner comes, we'll just switch,' so I guess my daughter went out behind her, and less than three or four seconds later, the bomb went off, and ... and the woman from California felt like it was her fault. But it wasn't," Bill says, tears running from his eyes.

It's not easy for Patty and Bill to see Krystle's friends who have recovered from their blast injuries.

"The girl at the thing at the John Hancocks said 'Are you mad?' I said, 'No, God no, I'm not mad at you at all. I'm not mad at you. It's just a natural human thought.' It's like, 'Why can't we have her?'" Patty said.

"You know, it's like, 'Why is our daughter gone and you're still here?' Not being mean or mad or anything, but of course it goes through your mind, you know, but you can't think like that, either, because they're going through their times," Bill said.

When times got really painful, the Boston Red Sox and Bruins were there, offering a day out to be around other families dealing with the same pain.

"I could hear the 260 people who got injured, but to see them is a whole different ballgame, how it affects you. It's just a whole different ballgame," Patty said, wiping tears from her eyes.

"There's strength in these kids and young women, young boys, babies, whatever, who got hurt. There's strength. You know, I'm not going to complain again," Bill said.

The Campbell family is trying to make peace with Krystle's passing. Her grandmother takes comfort in believing her deceased husband and Krystle are reunited in Heaven.

"I said that when I first saw her in the casket, I told her, 'Okay, Papa's waiting for you, and you'll be okay,'" Wilma said.

These days, Patty and Bill act as a support system for one another.

"One good thing about Billy ... I wasn't brought up in a family that showed much emotion, affection, I should say. We always knew that my parents cared about us, but we weren't showed hugs or kisses, and he always said to me, 'Your father is leaving, are you going to get up and give your dad a hug?'" Patty said about her husband. "He taught me how to show affection and I give him credit for helping me learn how to say to my children 'I love you and give me a hug,' otherwise I would have never had learned how to do that. I never was shown that as a kid."

"No, together we did it. Together we did it. It wouldn't have worked if we didn't do it together," Bill responded, holding Patty's hand.

Tags: Boston, massachusetts, Latoyia Edwards, Boston Marathon, Somerville, Bill Campbell, Krystle Campbell, Boston Marathon bombings, Patty Campbell
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