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UT Alum Shares Harrowing Story of a Son Lost, Then Found, After the Boston Bombings

Brian Downes’ son and daughter-in-law severely injured in the blast
Kimberley Jones, 4:41pm, Fri. Apr. 19, 2013
courtesy of Brian Downes (via Alcalde)
Jess Kensky and Patrick Downes

After a week of what feels like unrelenting awfulness, the nerves are pretty raw. Well, steel those nerves again, because you really need to read this story from the Texas Exes publication the Alcalde about University of Texas’ alum Brian Downes’ search for his son after the Boston Marathon bombings.

In an exclusive to the Alcalde, Downes (’72) related to writer Rose Cahalan how his son Patrick Downes and his wife Jess Kensky happened to be there that day:

In 2005, Patrick Downes and Jess Kensky both ran the Boston Marathon. That day they were strangers, with no idea that a year later they’d meet and fall in love. …

They went to the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday to reminisce about their 2005 run and celebrate the city’s biggest sporting event. When the bomb went off, Patrick was standing behind Jess with his arms wrapped around her waist.

The pair were separated and sent to different hospitals, both with severe injuries. Cahalan continues:

For four agonizing hours, no one knew where Patrick was. “We thought he was gone,” Brian says.

Then Brian got a call saying his son was in a different hospital with only minor injuries. That turned out to be false—Patrick had lost his left leg below the knee, he was hit with shrapnel, and he’d suffered some burns. Jess also lost her left leg, and doctors said they’d probably have to amputate her right foot, too.

On the phone Friday morning, Brian recounts the story in a calm, steady voice. He says he’s turned down dozens of media requests, but he contacted the Texas Exes to ask us to share his family’s story with alumni.

“I graduated from The University of Texas in 1972, and it was the great adventure of my life,” Brian says. “So if you can share this with Texas Exes and encourage them to donate, it would mean a lot.”

Click here to read the article in full. You can contribute to Patrick Downes and Jess Kensky's medical fund here. Looking for more ways to help? Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino formed The One Fund Boston organization to help victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

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