BOSTON (AP) - A man in a blue uniform got on the ground next to Beth Roche, shielding the Boston Marathon bombing victim after the first blast left bones poking out of her left leg.
"We're gonna take care of you," he told her. "Help is on the way."
More than a month later, Roche is hoping that, before her expected discharge from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Thursday, she can meet the rescuer who helped her April 15.
The 59-year-old medical office manager from Highland, Ind., said Tuesday that she doesn't want to leave Boston without hugging the person whose help included leaning over her as the second bomb exploded.
Her daughter Rebecca Roche, a 33-year-old Boston pharmacist, had just crossed the race's finish line before the bombs went off, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.
Since then, Beth Roche has had two surgeries on her left leg at Tufts Medical Center, including a knee reconstruction. She said she can feel pins that were implanted in her leg to help repair it and doesn't have full range of motion yet.
Dr. David Crandell said at a Tuesday news conference that he expects Roche's rehabilitation will take a year. But the patient said her recovery would be easier if she could meet the man who helped her at the scene, someone she believes is a first responder.
"I would just like to say thank you ... and give him the hug that I think that he deserves," she said Tuesday. "... When he was there, I felt like there was somebody protecting me."
Roche, who herself ran the Chicago Marathon last year, said her goal now is to run another marathon before she's 65. She was one of the bombing survivors that former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recently visited while in Boston to accept an award from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Roche said that visit and the fellowship she found with other bombing survivors helped lift her spirits during the hospitalization that's about to end.
Roche said she's elated by the idea of going home, and especially looks forward to seeing her cat again. But she knows there will be challenges ahead as she tries to get back to normal life.
"It's kind of scary because it's going to be different," she said.