Robert Siciliano, a member of Boston Children’s Hospital’s charity running team, has been haunted since the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon — haunted by the victims’ injuries, and by his own behavior.
“I was going right by bloody people and I thought, ‘I can’t just leave them. You’re supposed to help people,’ ” he said. “But I’ve got two little girls. So what the heck do I do?”
The phone went quiet as Siciliano, a security specialist from the North Shore, fought tears. “The decision I made got me to my family” who were at the race, he said. “But it’s still not right with me. I could have done more. Maybe I could have saved a foot.”
In the weeks since the attack, which killed three and injured more than 260, many of the wounded have shared their stories with the public. But in private, some uncounted number of runners and spectators are suffering from feelings of intense guilt because when violence struck, they didn’t dash in to help. Instead, they made sure their own loved ones were safe amid the harrowing chaos — or fled the danger to make sure they would survive to care for their families.
Now, they are talking to therapists, friends, or sometimes only themselves, questioning their split-second decisions. It may be a variation on survivor’s guilt or, as psychologists have said, an attempt to feel some control over a situation in which they were powerless. In any case, the emotions are powerful.
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