Marathon tragedy: Local survivor hopes to thank man who aided her

Marathon tragedy: Local survivor hopes to thank man who aided her
Bob Malm stands with his daughters, Lindsey and Jessica before the Boston Marathon. (Courtesy Photo)

By Derrick Perkins

His name is Steve and he lives in Boston’s North End. He caught Monday’s Red Sox game. And he helped reunite a scared, dazed and distraught Leslie Malm with her family after the marathon bombings.

The Alexandria resident was on Boylston Street, waiting for her husband, Bob Malm, and her two daughters — Lindsey and Jessica — to cross the finish line. Then the bombs went off, and the screaming began.

“It was like a warzone,” Leslie Malm said. “I’m glad I didn’t see any body parts. I saw a lot of blood. If I had seen [limbs], I think I would have been in the funny farm. God, it was so scary.”

She had stood near the second improvised explosive, her arm in a sling after undergoing rotator cuff surgery. The blast knocked her to the ground and onto her bad shoulder. Dazed and worried about being trampled, she sought shelter.

And that’s when Leslie Malm met Steve.

“It was him and a couple of other guys,” she recalled. “They helped me get into that restaurant next to Starbucks. Good, good people. Good people came forward and helped people that really needed it.”

He’s about 6-foot-2 with curly — or maybe wavy — reddish-blonde hair combed back. He wore a Red Sox jacket. Later, he walked with Leslie Malm toward Cheers, the Boston bar of TV fame, where her family traditionally met on “Marathon Monday.”

“He was just so kind. And anytime I started getting hysterical, he made me stop and take deep breaths. He was hugging me and holding me by the hand and helping me,” she said. “I said, ‘I know how to get there if you need to go somewhere else,’ and he said, ‘No, you need a friend right now.’”

By then Leslie Malm knew her family was safe and waiting for her. And her husband finally got in contact with her between 3 and 4 p.m.

“She was pretty hysterical,” Bob Malm said. “There was a lot of screaming and crying in that bar.”

Bob Malm, a reverend and rector of Russell Road’s Grace Episcopal Church, had just finished his 35th marathon. Injured during the off-season, he had no expectation of crossing the finish line, intending to run with his daughters as long as he could.

He stopped near the Newton-Wellesley Hospital — where his wife, a fellow Massachusetts native, was born — hoping to catch a bus into Boston and meet up with the rest of his family. But the bus was headed for Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

So Bob Malm was waiting on a second bus, this one definitely headed for Boston, when the news broke.

“We’re sitting on the school bus, waiting to go to Boston, and the bus driver has WBZ on,” he recalled. “We’re hearing about the race and Red Sox, and then all of the sudden, the radio says, ‘Oh my God, there is a bomb. There’s another bomb.’”

His daughters, meanwhile, were somewhere along the 26.2-mile course. When he later got in touch with them, Bob Malm learned that they were stopped on Commonwealth Avenue — within a few feet of each other.

Together, and joined by a son-in-law, the family regrouped at Cheers, where Leslie Malm rejoined them. There they began planning their next Boston Marathon.

“Of course, the girls and I started immediately that night saying, ‘We’re coming back. We’re going to finish this thing. We’re not going to be stopped,’” Bob Malm said, noting that it was Jessica Malm’s first time participating in the annual trek. “I think Jessica wants to go to the finish line. It’s a lot of work, preparing for a marathon.”

The husband and wife returned to Alexandria on April 17, happy to be home and greeted by an outpouring of concern and well wishes from friends and neighbors. But Leslie Malm’s ears were still ringing, and worried about hurting her still healing shoulder, she scheduled doctors’ appointments. Yet she keeps thinking about Steve.

“I would love to write him a thank you note,” she said. “He helped me keep my mind off of things by asking me constant questions: Where did you live when you lived up here, and where is your family from? He was just a nice kid.”