In a pleasant twist to recent stories about social networks being used to prematurely accuse certain Boston Marathon attendees of potential involvement in the bombings, Richard Whalley says he was able to find his injured parents thanks in large part to the Internet.
Whalley, a 25-year-old professional, first learned that his parents had been wounded by the bombings when his older brother informed him by phone that a Boston Globe/AP photo of their injured dad was being circulated on Reddit.
Unable to find his parents in any of the hospitals that were treating victims at the time, Whalley decided to ask his friends on Facebook for help.
"This is my dad in the picture in this link," Whalley wrote on his Facebook page. "I have no idea where my mum is. They were both bombed. I'm trying to figure out what hospital they are at. Can you help?"
It took his Facebook friends — and their Facebook friends and so on — approximately 10 minutes to figure out why Whalley had been unable to find his mom and dad: They had been admitted under different names.
"It was amazing," Whalley told ABC News. "Multiple people called the hospitals. The third time they got a call [at Brigham and Women's] they decided to double check the records."
Sadly, Ann and Eric, 65, both suffered extensive injuries, having been struck by multiple ball bearings and nails that were embedded in the bomb.
Eric lost part of his foot and may potentially lose his vision as well. He may also have suffered brain damage.
Ann remains on a respirator, and will need to undergo additional reconstructive surgery to repair tissue damage.
Still, Whalley is truly grateful for all the help he received from random folks online.
"The Internet had a really important role in how our story played out and how we could respond to the crisis," he said.
And the Internet isn't done helping just yet.
A GiveForward page has been set up by friends of Whalley to help his parents with their mounting medical expenses. In just a few short days, the page has raised over $45,000 thanks to nearly 1,000 anonymous donors.
[photos via AP, Facebook]