A 65-year-old Hollywood Riviera resident who suffered nearly fatal injuries when bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon returned to Los Angeles on Friday—a return highlighted by his ability to walk off the airplane that carried him home.
"To be able to get off that plane and (be) back in California is just an unbelievable feeling, and I just don't have the words to describe my feelings here today," John Odom told ABC7 shortly after his arrival at Los Angeles International Airport.
Odom—who lives in the Hollywood Riviera section of Torrance where residences have Redondo Beach mailing addresses—returned to Los Angeles with his wife, Karen.
They had attended the April 15 Boston Marathon to watch their daughter Nicole Reis run the race for the first time. When the bombs exploded, Odom's legs were severely damaged by shrapnel. Arteries in each of his legs were severed, and his heart stopped beating at least twice while he was undergoing surgery.
He spent more than a week on life support and underwent nearly a dozen surgeries to repair his legs.
In the months since, Odom has undergone extensive physical therapy, essentially learning how to walk again.
"It was the determination to not let that stop me from getting back here to California, and not stop me from being able to do the things I want to do," Odom told Channel 7.
Karen Odom told the station the family didn't know at first if her husband would survive, but "once we realized he would make it, then it was the hurdle of what does making it look like? Would he ever walk again?"
"There were times when he didn't even think he'd even get out of bed," she said. "But once he realized that he could get out of bed, he could walk, then I knew the sky was the limit. I knew he would be able to do anything he set his mind to. There's nothing that will hold him back."
John Odom said he was thankful to back among friends and family.
"To be out here, all the family was here, special friends that showed up, again, with their love," he said. "It's just unbelievable."
His wife told ABC7 that she and her husband remained positive throughout the experience.
"I think you just have to stay positive," she said. "You have to concentrate on the good, not the bad. We don't think about the bad thing that happened. We think about all the love and support and prayers that we've gotten from all over the world that got us here today and look at the future. It's going to be a different future than we had envisioned, but have a future, and it's a good one."
—City News Service.