Boston double amputee, daughter hospitalized together

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BOSTON -- Celeste Corcoran, 47, of Lowell, Mass., lost both her legs in the marathon explosions.

Her daughter Sydney, a 17-year-old high school senior, was also wounded, hit with shrapnel.

The two were staying in the same room at Boston Medical Center on Sunday, tended by Celeste’s husband, Kevin Corcoran, 48, a truck driver so stoic that he wouldn’t admit he, too, had been injured in the bombing. Lacerations on his legs went unattended for two days as he helped his family.


On Sunday, with the help of a walker, Sydney took her first steps since the blast, according to her uncle Timothy Corcoran, 46, of Warwick, R.I. (A photo of her standing here is posted on a website the family has set up.)

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“They had a good day today,” Tim Corcoran told the Los Angeles Times. “Celeste was encouraged.”

In part, that encouragement stemmed from a visit by injured Marines, a visit filmed and posted on YouTube.

“I can’t do anything right now,” Celeste Corcoran, whose legs were amputated below the knee, told one of the Marines from her hospital bed as Sydney looked on from hers.

“Right now, yes. But I’m telling you right now you are going to be more independent,” he said.


By the end of the visit, both women were laughing and holding hands between beds as Celeste Corcoran told a joke.

“Running’s never been my thing because I always get the most horrible shin splints,” she said. “So I was like, hey, I don’t even have shins anymore -- I’m not going to get any shin splints!”

The pair also got a visit from the actor Bradley Cooper, and an invitation to the Red Sox dugout Sunday for Celeste’s son Tyler Corcoran, 20. And they learned the identity of a good Samaritan who comforted Sydney after the bombing: Matt Smith, a Boston-area resident who visited the pair and received a warm welcome, Tim Corcoran said.

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“He came down to the hospital and surprised us,” Corcoran said. “He’s family now.”

But there were also further difficulties.

Kevin Corcoran’s mother, who flew up from Florida the day after the bombing to help, suffered a mild heart attack and had to be admitted to the hospital. She has since been released.

Both Celeste and Sydney underwent surgeries as recently as Saturday. They each face challenging rehabilitation: Celeste as a double amputee and Sydney as a victim not just of the blast, but of a car crash two years ago that she narrowly survived with a fractured skull.


“We almost lost her a few years ago, and now we’ve been dealt these cards,” Tim Corcoran said, adding that his niece “has an unbelievable spirit of resiliency.”

Friends created an online fundraiser to help the family and a Facebook page.

So far, they have received donations from more than 8,000 people and raised more than $530,000.

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“We’re going to need a lot of help; the medical bills alone are going to be staggering,” Tim Corcoran said. “They live in a home that has a twisty staircase; they’re going to need a new home. The rehabilitation, just getting back to a normal life is going to be a struggle.”

Celeste worked as a hairdresser at Emerge Spa & Salon on Boston’s Newbury Street, just blocks from the site of the explosions. Kevin drives a truck for a plumbing supply company. They have health insurance, but like most middle-class families, that won’t help them weather a catastrophic medical emergency, said Tim Corcoran, who works at a restaurant in Providence, R.I.


“They’re just a regular American family struggling in today’s economy that will be set back by this. Celeste will not be able to go to work and Kevin obviously isn’t,” he said. “The true reality of the situation hasn’t really set in yet. There will be hard times ahead.”


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