Man who saved a life in Boston tried to kill himself in Florida nine years ago

Father of fallen Marine becomes hero in Boston

BOSTON - While others ran for safety, Carlos Arredondo ran in to help.  In the video, you can see his distinctive cowboy hat through the smoky confusion. 

One young man on the ground needed an ambulance, so Arrendondo found a wheelchair.  The photos taken at that point are too gruesome to televise unedited, because Arredondo is stanching the flow of blood from two severed legs.

"Thank God I had the heart to go and help some people out by putting tourniquets with their own clothes," explained Arredondo after the explosions.

The next day, in media around the world, Arredondo became the face of heroism.  A firefighter in his native Costa Rica, he was at the finish line, cheering on marathoners who dedicated their run to fallen soldiers, including Arredondo's son Alexander, a Marine killed in action in Najaf, Iraq in 2004.  

Arredondo nearly didn't survive that tragedy to help others in Boston.

"There were two Marines in full ceremonial garb and a guy on the ground shaking with what looked like burns and a woman screaming," remembered ABC Action News photojournalist, Harlan Schmidt.

Schmidt was in a helicopter over Hollywood, Florida, nine years ago and captured the scene where Carlos Arredondo, overcome with grief, set himself ablaze with lighter fluid inside the van of the Marines who had just told him his 20-year-old son was dead.

"Imagine my shock to see what happened in Boston and one of the iconic images is the same guy I saw that day on the ground suffering from something equally traumatic," said Schmidt.

After recovering from serious burns, Arredondo became an anti-war activist and moved to Boston.  He suffered another blow in 2011 when his other son, Brian, took his own life.

But when tragedy came to Boston on Monday afternoon, the resilient and selfless Arredondo did for strangers on Boylston Avenue what he could not do for his son in Najaf, Iraq.

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