The last victim of the Boston Marathon bombings left the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center today, seven weeks after the explosion that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Erika Brannock, 29, lost part of her left leg and injured her right leg in the April 15 explosion and had been hospitalized ever since.
"I have had some very dark moments," Brannock said at a news conference immediately before her release, "but I have always had inspiration to stay positive."
A preschool teacher from Cockeysville, Md., Brannock was at the marathon to cheer on her mother, Carol Downing, who was participating in the race. She was at the finish line with her sister and brother-in-law, Nicole and Michael Gross. She and her sister, Nicole, were both critically injured, although her sister required on amputations and Gross sustained only minor scrapes.
"I remember everything," Brannock said of that fateful day. "I remember my sister pushing me forward and everything went silent. My sister was screaming for people to take care of her. I could hear the ambulance saying she was critical."
Brannock teared up several times during the news conference, pausing to collect herself. She repeatedly thanked Boston and its citizens for helping her through these difficult weeks.
She acknowledged the woman who helped her in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and stayed with her to make sure she was cared for.
"She said, 'I am not going to let you go,'" Brannock said. "Everyone from Boston has shown me such love and support."
Although Brannock has been released from the hospital, she still has a long road ahead, Dr. Edward Rodriguez, chief of Orthopaedics Trauma Service at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, said at the news conference.
Rodriguez said Brannock was hospitalized for so long because she sustained damage to both her legs and he wanted to avoid a second amputation.
Her mother, Downing, who sat next to Brannock at the news conference, marveled at the strength of both of her daughters. Despite the traumatic experience at this year's marathon, Downing plans to run in next year's race, provided her husband allows it.
"The more I ran, the more I realized I loved it and that I needed closure," she said.
Brannock headed straight for the airport after the news conference. She wanted to hug the kids she teaches, hug her friends and family, and eat Baltimore crabs.