Victims of explosions are facing a long road ahead

The female who was shown being treated Monday in a photo that ran on Page 1 of Tuesday’s Globe has been identified as Sydney Corcoran. Corcoran, a 17-year-old senior at Lowell High School, survived the blasts.
The female who was shown being treated Monday in a photo that ran on Page 1 of Tuesday’s Globe has been identified as Sydney Corcoran. Corcoran, a 17-year-old senior at Lowell High School, survived the blasts.

She lies on a blood-spattered sidewalk, a makeshift tourniquet held to her leg by two strangers. The image, shot by a Boston Globe photographer and featured on the front pages of the Globe and The New York Times on Tuesday, came to symbolize the grievous wounds and sudden heroism that followed the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The girl on the ground is Sydney Corcoran, a 17-year-old Lowell High School senior. Her femoral artery was ruptured. Corcoran, near death when she reached Boston Medical Center, woke from surgery with a request: Locate the men who saved her life.

“Find Matt,’’ she said, according to her aunt, Carmen Acabbo, who added, “We would all like to thank him.”


Her mother, Celeste, a hairdresser at a Newbury Street salon, suffered more serious injuries. She lost both her legs in the bombings.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Their stories are among the legions to emerge from those who were badly injured in the attack. Many of them count themselves lucky, despite burned flesh and missing body parts. Three people died in the blast, some within steps of the survivors. At least 11 people lost limbs, including a 9-year-old girl whose leg is gone. As of Tuesday night, 70 of the injured remained in Boston hospitals, 24 of them in critical condition.

In the months and years ahead, they all face a daunting road as they try to recover from deep physical wounds and untold emotional trauma.

The injured reflect the intensely local and breathtakingly international makeup of the race. They include Zhou Danling, a Chinese student studying actuarial science at Boston University, who the Chinese consulate reported was “badly hurt,” and Gillian Reny, a senior at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge.

Marilyn Kight, a 63-year-old hospice nurse from Redding, Calif., was standing near the finish line and had just cheered on her daughter, Amy Blomquist of Reno, when the second bomb exploded. When Kight arrived at Tufts Medical Center, she had a hole the size of her fist in the back of her thigh, said her husband, Carlo Jensen.


“She was just thankful she didn’t lose her leg,” he said. “She was happy about that, and felt sorry about everyone else.”

Kight, who loves kayaking and hiking in the mountains of Northern California, has had two surgeries and will need plastic surgery to repair her thigh, Jensen said. As a hospice nurse, she is not unfamiliar with human frailty and physical struggle. “She’s tough,” he said.

Erika Brannock, who teaches 2-year-olds at Trinity Episcopal Children’s Center in Towson, Md., was cheering on her mother and sending texts to friends reporting that mom was doing 9-minute miles. Then the bombs ripped through Boylston Street.

Brannock was raced to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where doctors amputated her leg below the knee, said Brian Gross, her brother-in-law. Doctors are also “keeping an eye on the other leg and are concerned with her foot,” Gross said.

Stunned colleagues in Maryland are putting together a trust to help defray her medical bills and her church will hold a worship service for healing and restoration Wednesday night.


“She’s the kind of faculty member you would want in any school, in any situation,” said Liz Harlan, who has been Brannock’s supervisor for the last four years and is starting a new preschool where Brannock plans to teach this fall. “She worked in every classroom and knew every kid as if they were her own.”

During football season, Brannock dons Baltimore Ravens gear for Purple Fridays, a schoolwide celebration of the team.

“She is such a Ravens fan, we’re going to have an honorary Purple Friday and photograph it and send it to her and her family,” said the Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III, rector of Brannock’s church. “The children have rallied around at school. We’re just praying for her and that she comes back to us soon.”

Sydney and Celeste Corcoran had come to the Marathon with a large group of relatives to cheer on Acabbo, Celeste’s sister, who was running the race for the first time.

Acabbo heard the blasts as she ran past Hereford Street, a few blocks from the finish.

Celeste Corcoran, 47, who works at Emerge Spa & Salon on Newbury Street, was hit with shrapnel and rushed to Boston Medical Center. She had both legs amputated below the knee.

When she awoke from surgery, she told her sister she was only sorry she missed seeing her cross the finish line.

“She’s a strong and amazing woman,” Acabbo said. “We’re lucky to have her.”

Still, she said, “Celeste’s life is going to be very different. She has a long rehabilitation ahead of her.”

Acabbo said she told her sister she would be there for her every step of the way.

“I said, ‘You know what? We’re starting your marathon now and I’ll train with you,’ ” Acabbo said.

Sydney Corcoran, despite massive blood loss, is expected to recover, Acabbo said. She plans to attend Middlesex Community College in the fall and wants to study psychology. She survived one major injury when she was hit by a car two years ago and fractured her skull, according to local news accounts.

“It’s just so devastating for a girl who is not even 18,” Acabbo said. “It’s like, enough. That’s it.”

Eric Moskowitz and Akilah Johnson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Levenson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.