Badly wounded Franklin Regional student's friends keep vigil in UPMC Presbyterian lobby
It was just another day at school for Jared Boger.
But that all changed as he walked down a flight of steps near the library and a boy he didn't know approached him, stabbing him so severely that the wound stretched nearly to his spine.
On Thursday, as Boger fought to survive the wounds he suffered in Wednesday's attack in Franklin Regional Senior High School, his friends and the skiing and baseball communities of which he's such a big part struggled to come to grips with it all.
“He's a great kid from a great family,” said Gus Bondi Sr., 47, of Murrysville, who coaches the American Legion baseball team Boger plays on. “After every game, every practice, he would come up and shake my hand and say, ‘Thanks, Coach.' ”
He is a “joy to coach,” Bondi said. On the field, he “gave it his all.”
Of the 22 people stabbed, allegedly by student Alex Hribal, 16, just before the start of morning classes on Wednesday, Boger was the most severely injured, with the blade slashing through his abdomen.
Boger, a junior, did not know Hribal, friends said.
On Thursday, Boger, 17, was conscious and responding to simple commands but remained in critical condition, doctors said.
“He's responding better than we expected,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana, a trauma surgeon at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. Puyana did not identify Boger by name, but family and friends confirmed his identity. “He's responding to the therapy, and we're pleased about that.”
Boger may have to undergo a third operation on Friday, Puyana said. He suffered a deep wound to the torso that injured his liver and surrounding vessels. He is receiving support from a breathing machine, the surgeon said.
Groups of Franklin Regional students have maintained a vigil in Presbyterian's main lobby since he was taken there.
Among those students was Gus Bondi Jr., 17, who has known Boger since the fifth grade.
“He was the type of person who would help you before he would help himself,” Bondi said. “He'd do anything for you. ... He's never given anybody a problem.”
Boger's reach extends beyond Westmoreland County to Seven Springs Mountain Resort, where he served as a member of the ski patrol.
“Our entire mountain family is deeply saddened by this tragedy, and all of our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Jared, the other victims, their families, friends and loved ones,” said Seven Springs spokeswoman Anna Weltz.
Boger was injured when Hribal randomly slashed at fellow students with two kitchen knives as he walked along a crowded first-floor hallway, police said.
In Murrysville on Thursday, churches offered prayers for Boger and the other victims on their billboards, and optometrist Julie Clark and her co-workers painted “#FR STRONG” on the front window of their office.
No could make sense of how Boger, the good kid who loves baseball and skiing, could be caught up in such a tragedy.
“Jared is the sweetest kid. There's nothing he could've done to deserve this,” said Penn-Trafford High School junior Micala Myers.
Gus Bondi Sr. has a feeling the boy he has coached for the past 10 years will survive.
“I'm praying for him and his family,” he said. “But he's a pretty resilient kid.”
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writers Megan Harris, Doug Gulasy and Luis Fábregas contributed to this report.