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Marathon survivor wants to thank mystery man

Beth Roche laughed with Dr. David Crandell and her husband, Ken, at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown.

JESSICA RINALDI FOR THE GLOBE

Beth Roche laughed with Dr. David Crandell and her husband, Ken, at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown.

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Beth Roche says she wants to thank — and hug — a mystery man in a blue uniform who aided her after the blast that ripped into her knee.

“I felt very alone, but when he was there, I felt like there was something protecting me,” said Beth Roche.

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Giving an update on her recovery Tuesday at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Roche said the man in blue told her that everything was going to be all right and that help was on its way. The man had his back to the area where the bomb had exploded, said Roche, and he could not have known whether there would be another explosion that would come from that direction. Roche said she wanted to thank him “for being the man that he was and being as brave as he was” and she felt that if she could meet him, it would help bring her closure.

The Indiana resident was rushed to Tufts Medical Center after the blast tore into her knee. She faced a daunting ­recovery, including multiple surgeries, the Globe reported last month. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15.

At the press conference Tuesday, Roche described the tears she shed after struggling to complete her first leg lift in physical therapy and the fear she felt standing at the top of a daunting set of stairs.

“It’s scary because it’s going to be different,” she said. “I am a walker and I used to walk around the neighborhood a mile-and-a-half every day.”

It will be months, maybe even a year, before Roche ­regains full movement in her damaged knee, Dr. David ­Crandell said at the press conference. Her family has ­installed hand railings in her Indiana home, and a friend lent her a wheelchair, Roche said.

Roche, 60, hopes to go home later this week to her family. But she will be leaving behind a second family at Spaulding and in the Boston area, where bombing victims forged a bond in pain and recovery.

“We’ve connected, and we’ve become a family,” she said. “You know their pain because you’re going through it together.”

Roche also said she would visit the Boylston Street bombing site before she leaves the city and would return for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Todd Feathers can be reached
at todd.feathers@globe.com. ­Follow him on Twitter ­@ToddFeathers. Martin ­Finucane can be reached at ­mfinucane@globe.com.

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