A young boy from Martinez, who was injured in Monday’s explosions at the Boston Marathon, is undergoing a second surgery Wednesday.
Aaron Hern, 11, was with his father, Alan, and sister, Abby, cheering on their mom, Katherine Hern, as she finished the marathon when he was hit by shrapnel from one of the two bombs.
Alan Hern appeared on the Today Show Wednesday along with Aaron's doctor.
He said strangers quickly came to his son's aid, one of them using their own belt as a tourniquet.
“It wasn’t bleeding heavily, but it didn’t look very good, like a war wound,” Hern said on NBC. “Luckily, they got him on an ambulance pretty quickly.”
"He’s been through a lot. A couple of times yesterday he opened his eyes. He knew we were there. His mother and I were with him,” Hern said. "We figured out that he was worried about the breathing tube. He wasn’t sure what that was all about. We told him that everything was all right.”
Hern told CNN Tuesday that his son had been sedated most of the time since he arrived at Boston Children's Hospital. Aaron also has singed hair, redness to his eyes and other lacerations, according to his family.
"They were right at the finish line to congratulate Katherine right there in the center of it," family friend and Martinez resident Gay Gerlack said.
But their celebration turned into an emergency when shrapnel from one explosion injured Aaron’s leg.
Aaron's grandmother Catherine Hern talked to NBC Bay Area Tuesday. She told a harrowing tale of her son and daughter-in-law walking from one hospital to the next trying to find Aaron on Monday. She said her grandson was just a few feet away from his dad when the blast hit, but by the time the two were united, medical staff was already treating Aaron. They put him in an ambulance, leaving the father and his younger sister behind. It took hours for the family to be reunited, according to Catherine Hern. For Aaron's mother, that long walk happened after running a marathon.
"It's hard for me to wrap my head around this," Catherine Hern said.
Katherine Hern, the mother, posted this update on her Facebook page: "Aaron is in the ICU but stable. Has many lacerations but mostly superficial except one. One on his upper left thigh needs more surgery and just not sure yet the extent of the damage. Will be here about 7-10 days with follow up surgeries."
The Hern family is well-known in Martinez.
Alan Hern is the football coach at Alhambra High School. Katherine Hern is a member of the Kiwanis club and active fundraiser in the community.
Aaron's classmates at Martinez Junior High spent time Tuesday making get-well cards. The school also is collecting money to help the family pay for an unplanned extended stay in Boston while Aaron recovers.
Aaron's grandmother said he is a good athlete and on a traveling Pony League baseball team.
Meanwhile, community members in Martinez are also scrambling to help in any way they can.
Roxanne Cole, the owner of restaurant and wine bar Roxx on Main, welcomed diners to the business for a fundraiser for the family during the lunch and dinner hours on Tuesday.
Employees at the restaurant, located at 627 Main St., worked for free on Tuesday, and other local businesses, including Chairs for Affairs, donated supplies, Cole said.
"If you know anything about Martinez, we're a very tight-knit community, and I wanted to do something to help," she said.
She said the event netted $4,500, with all proceeds going to help cover the family's transportation and housing expenses.
Cole said she would continue to hold the same fundraiser each Tuesday until the Hern family returns home. Community members may also drop off donations at the restaurant until a donation fund is established, she said.
The public will have more chances to dine and donate to the Herns at a fundraiser at Mountain Mike's Pizza at 1160 Arnold Drive in Martinez today from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The fundraiser will continue every day through Sunday.
Sunday through Wednesday, customers at Kinder's Meats and BBQ throughout Contra Costa County can donate 15 percent of each purchase to the Hern family.