Nightly News   |  April 24, 2013

College student thanks her Boston heroes

Victoria McGrath was just five feet away from the first bomb when it exploded at the Boston Marathon. She was carried to safety by firefighter Jimmy Plourde, bandaged by bystander Bruce Mendelson, and comforted by the words of Tyler Dodd. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> these days in boston the wounded are being reunited with the total streangers who in many cases saved their lives. we learned about a woman in a now famous photograph. kerry sanders has our report from boston tonight.

>> reporter: she was but five feet away when the first bomb exploded.

>> i don't know how you can put a bomb there and look at the people around and know that you're going to kill them. i don't understand it.

>> reporter: victoria mcgrath's rescue was captured in this iconic image.

>> thank you.

>> reporter: on tuesday, victoria met the man who carried her to safety. firefighter jimmy plourd.

>> you looked at me like, i'm so scared. i'm like, we're out of here.

>> i thought there would be more bombing.

>> reporter: also at tufts medical center bruce mendelson, a bystander who ran toward the explosion, not away. he was the first to reach victoria , used a t-shirt to tie a tourniquet to her leg.

>> the doctor told me if you hadn't done that i would have died. you saved my life. otherwise i would have bled out because it hit the artery.

>> wow.

>> reporter: x-rays reveal a one-inch piece of shrapnel tore into victoria 's leg.

>> just a matter of centimeters, the difference between having a leg and losing it?

>> yes.

>> reporter: at first, one stranger who pitched in to help victoria repained a mystery man.

>> his name is tyler . that's all we know. victoria very much wants to thank tyler personally.

>> reporter: after that public plea tyler dodd came forward.

>> i can stand up.

>> are you sure?

>> yeah.

>> reporter: tyler told victoria he survived a shrapnel injury in afghanistan, but that wasn't quite true.

>> he wasn't a soldier in afghanistan. he wasn't in combat.

>> reporter: this is the little white lie you embrace?

>> yeah. i don't regret him telling me that.

>> reporter: through it all, the blood loss, the chaos, a group of strangers pushed her to hold on.

>> i'm so thankful. you guys are so brave.

>> you're wonderful.

>> reporter: this afternoon victoria left tufts medical center , thanks to a community of strangers who pulled together. kerry sanders , nbc news, boston .