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Family keeps still-hospitalized bomb victim upbeat

By Bob Salsberg

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 11 2013 2:59 p.m. MDT

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013 photo, Marc Fucarile, left, jokes while speaking with members of the media as his fiancee, Jennifer Regan, right, looks on in his room at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Fucarile was only feet away from a bomb blast Monday, April 15 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon that resulted in the loss of one leg, severe damage to the other, as well as burns, and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his heart.

Steven Senne, Associated Press

BOSTON — Marc Fucarile lost his right leg above the knee in the Boston Marathon bombing, and doctors are still fighting to save his shattered left one. He has second- and third-degree burns and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his heart. He's lost track of how many surgeries he's had, with more still ahead.

But he won't allow the pain or the uncertainty of his future shake his spirit or destroy his faith in humanity.

"There are so many more good people than bad," Fucarile says during an interview with The Associated Press in his room at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A 34-year-old roofer, Fucarile is the last bombing victim remaining at that hospital and among a few of the most seriously injured in the April 15 attack not yet released from other hospitals or transferred to rehabilitation facilities.

His spirits remain high because there are "a lot of loving people supporting me," he says. He reaches for the hand of one of those people — his fiancee, Jennifer Regan.

"Marc is keeping me strong when I should be keeping him strong," Regan says. "He's so positive about the whole thing."

Also in the room are his mother, Maureen, father Edward Sr., and older siblings Stephanie and Edward Jr. They wear "Boston Strong" T-shirts and distribute "Marc Strong" wristbands with the address of a fundraising website, www.marcfucarile.com.

The future holds daunting challenges for Fucarile, but he has much to look forward to. In addition to planning his wedding, he hopes to stand as the best man at his brother's wedding, originally scheduled for June 1 but now postponed indefinitely.

And perhaps best of all, there are happy times ahead with Gavin, his son with Regan. A gift the boy brought on one of his first visits to the hospital — a stuffed bear in the uniform of his dad's favorite team, the Boston Bruins — sits at Fucarile's side.

Fucarile was among several friends from his hometown of Stoneham who were injured, including Paul and J.P. Norden, brothers who each lost a leg. They had gone to the Boylston Street finish line to cheer on another buddy in the race.

"The first bomb went off and we all looked at each other and said, 'That's not good,'" Fucarile recalls. As the friends tried to scramble to safety, the second bomb — maybe 5 or 6 feet from where Fucarile stood — exploded.

When he came to, he was lying on the ground surrounded by thick smoke. A firefighter was kneeling on him, tightening a tourniquet.

"I don't want to die," Fucarile told the man. "I have a little boy. I've got a fiancee."

"Just keep thinking about them," the firefighter replied.

Fucarile knew immediately his right leg had been blown off. He was holding the unattached limb in his arms.

Fearing a third bomb was about to explode, the rescuer dragged Fucarile into the street. But if he was going to survive he needed to get to a hospital — quickly — and there were no more ambulances. All were filled with other victims.

Fearing he would slip away, Fucarile followed the firefighter's advice and thought hard about his son and fiancee. Then another hero emerged.

It was a police officer who did not have an ambulance but did have a wagon, normally used to transport prisoners. Fucarile and another badly injured woman were loaded into the wagon for a harrowing ride to the hospital. The strangers comforted each other along the way.

His cellphone rang at the hospital. It was Regan. Another firefighter answered and told her that Fucarile had been badly hurt and that she needed to get there quickly.

Later, the family was told just how close it had been.

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