June 5th, 2013
10:37 PM ET

Hero: I was meant to be there to help

Erika Brannock credits Amanda North with saving her life after the Boston bombings. The two women met for the first time since the attack on Tuesday. They were reunited with the help of AC360 viewers who saw Randi Kaye's report on Monday night and recognized North in a photo taken after the blasts.

In the confusion, they both heard each other's names incorrectly, and they lost track of each other when Erika was rushed to the hospital. "The last I saw of Erika, she was lying gravely wounded on a sidewalk in Boston. And there was a swarm of emergency responders trying to help her and carried her away," North says.

Brannock had her left leg amputated and endured 11 surgeries; she returned to her home in Maryland this week. The preschool teacher was desperate to find North, who was also injured. They are both grateful to be reconnected after weeks of being unable to find each other.

Anderson Cooper asked North about her heroic actions in the chaotic aftermath of the bombings. "I wish I could say it was conscious, but there was a person who needed my help, and it was the reason I was there. I felt that I was meant to be there, to help her, and thank God I did," she says.

North thought about Brannock every day and says she prayed for her; she calls their reunion today a miracle. Surviving the attack and helping a stranger has touched her life and made her think about gratitude and a sense of purpose.

"Seeing that we don't know what's going to happen in our lives, and that we need to really understand what our passions are, and what our gifts are, and apply them to something important," says North about what she's taken away from the experience.

If you'd like to help Erika cover the cost of some of her medical bills, her friends have established the Erika Brannock Fund to collect donations.

Our viewers were incredibly touched by Amanda and Erika's story. Here's how some reacted on Twitter:

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack • Randi Kaye
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