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June 5th, 2013
10:44 PM ET

Boston bombing survivor meets woman she says saved her life

Editor's note: 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.

Erika Brannock, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, anxiously purses her lips.

Her eyes jump and she is quick to smile and laugh.

This is what someone looks like waiting to meet the person, a stranger, who she believes saved her life.

"I told my cousin last night that it's kind of like the night before Christmas, where you're so excited, but nervous at the same time and you can't sleep," Brannock told CNN's AC360 on Wednesday.

Brannock is about to meet Amanda North, a woman who took her hand and did not let go.

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack
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.

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack • Randi Kaye
June 4th, 2013
10:32 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Boston bombing victim reunited with her hero

Erika Brannock's life was forever changed the day the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line in April. Part of her left leg was blown off, and her right leg was broken. She might have died if a stranger hadn't been there to provide critical care and support.

Brannock, 29, was discharged from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center this week; she was the last patient injured in the attack to be released. As she returned home to Maryland, she thought about all she had overcome, the 11 surgeries she endured and the challenges she faces adjusting to her new normal.

The preschool teacher also spent a lot of time thinking about the woman who held her hand and tied a tourniquet around her severed limb. Brannock desperately wanted to find her hero.

On Monday night, CNN's Randi Kaye reported on Erika's journey and turned to AC360° viewers for help finding the woman who saved Brannock's life.

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack • Randi Kaye
June 3rd, 2013
11:34 PM ET

Help Boston victim find her rescuer

Erika Brannock could have died from her severe injuries after the Boston Marathon bombings were it not for a good samaritan. Part of Erika's left leg was blown off in the blast and her right leg was broken. A compassionate stranger, who she recalls having the name Joan, made a tourniquet out of a belt to stop the bleeding.

"I had a conversation in my head with God and I told him I wasn't ready to go," remembers Erika. "It was almost instantaneously ... this woman kind of crawled over to me and she grabbed my hand ... she said 'My name is Joan from California and I'm not going to let you go,' and she stayed with me the whole time."

The preschool teacher has overcome many obstacles in her recovery, including 11 surgeries, as well as the fear of another attack. Every time she was wheeled into the operating room, she had to pass the section of the hospital where bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was being treated. The FBI assured Erika that he would never hurt her again.

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack
Tonight on AC360: Last Boston bombings survivor leaves hospital
Erika Brannock learning to dress her wounds before leaving the hospital.
June 3rd, 2013
07:05 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Last Boston bombings survivor leaves hospital

Erika Brannock took the next step on her road to recovery today. The survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings left the hospital where doctors treated her after the attack.

She was the last patient wounded that day to check out of the hospital. CNN's Randi Kaye was with her for the milestone, and will have her story of survival tonight on AC360.

Erika was with her sister and brother-in-law at the finish line; they were there to cheer for her mother who was running in the race. The blast destroyed part of Erika's left leg and her right leg was broken.

She believes she could have died if not for the compassion and quick thinking of a stranger. All Erika can remember about the hero is that her name is Joan and she said she was from California. Joan tied a belt around Erika's leg to help slow the blood loss.

Do you recognize Joan in this picture taken after the bombings? If so, help Erika find the woman who saved her life by emailing  FindJoan@cnn.com.

Erika and Joan

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack
May 16th, 2013
10:29 PM ET

Toobin: Note shows premeditation

Jeffrey Toobin explains the possible legal repercussions of a note by the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, stating his motivation. He wrote the message on the inside of the boat where he was hiding in Watertown until he was captured, according to a law enforcement source. He expressed his and his brother's motivation for the attack, calling their actions payback for U.S. wars in Muslim lands. He labeled the victims collateral damage.

May 15th, 2013
10:29 PM ET

Dancer: Fall made amputation seem real

A month after Adrianne Haslet-Davis' foot was amputated, the Boston bombing survivor describes the challenges she faces in an interview with Anderson Cooper. She says the hardest part is doing "simple things" like showering, going to the bathroom and getting ready - her daily routine.

Adrianne fell in her bedroom a few days ago directly on her tender wound and sensitive stitching. The incident made her new normal seem more real.

"I don't know if it was me just kind of realizing physically that my leg wasn't there anymore. But it was really hard for me. I think it sort of made me realize that I was a lot weaker than I thought I was ... a hard thing to think about," says Adrianne.

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May 15th, 2013
10:19 PM ET

Boston bombing survivor: Life goes on

One month ago, Boston bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost her left foot in the attack.  The dance instructor has had a positive outlook, but is also candid about her struggles. She’s vowed to return to the dance floor and has agreed to let AC360° follow her journey. Anderson Cooper shows how far she’s come in just four weeks.

May 15th, 2013
09:56 PM ET

What really happened during manhunt for Boston bombing suspects

In the days after last month's Boston marathon bombings, the city was on edge. Residents were holed up in their homes, under strict orders not to leave. Investigators sifted through countless hours of surveillance images trying to determine who might have carried out this heinous attack.

Then came a breakthrough.

Three days after the April 15 attack, the FBI identified the bombing suspects captured in surveillance images near the finish line, later identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

And a manhunt was on.

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May 15th, 2013
09:50 PM ET

Boston bombing tribute time lapse

A month after the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, visitors to a memorial continue to leave messages and mementos for the victims. A time lapse video captures the growing tribute.

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Filed under: Boston Marathon Attack
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