Belfast Telegraph

My pride by Ulster cousin of girl hailed hero after Boston bomb horror

By Claire McNeilly

The Northern Irish cousin of a Boston Marathon bomb victim says she is so proud of the badly-injured woman who has been hailed a hero across the United States.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost a foot in the April 15 atrocity, has close relatives living in north Antrim.

It emerged as New York City officials revealed the two bombing suspects intended to use their remaining explosives to blow up Times Square.

Despite her horrific injuries, 32-year-old Boston dance instructor Adrianne – who has come to symbolise America's spirit of resilience – still plans to compete in next year's Boston Marathon.

Her cousin, Leanne Dunlop, said that it's almost surreal that someone she knows so well is now making headlines across the world.

"I am simply amazed at how Adrianne has dealt with what happened," said Leanne, who is from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, and works as a politician's assistant at Stormont.

"The Boston bombing was a horrendously evil act, but it's absolutely humbling to see some hope and good triumph over that, with Adrianne and her husband Adam playing such a prominent role.

"They have expressed how horrific and awful it has been for them, but they're also real in their hope.

"It's been inspiring to see such character and determination shining through."

Adrianne was discharged from hospital on Wednesday and has now moved to a specialist rehab centre to continue her recovery.

Both she and Adam, a US Air Force captain who had just returned from Afghanistan, have been invited to appear on Dancing With The Stars, the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, next week. Adrianne's stoicism and frankness about what happened to her has captivated Americans still coming to terms with the attack.

"I won't let this come along and steal my whole life, so I'll dance again," Adrianne told reporters.

"And next year, although I've never been a runner, I plan to run in the Boston Marathon."

Leanne (30) was at a friend's house when she heard about the Boston attack, which claimed the lives of three people and wounded a further 264.

It wasn't until 11pm, however, that she realised people close to her had been hurt.

"One of Adrianne's twin brothers, Tim, contacted me to say they (Adrianne and Adam) had been severely injured in the bomb," said Leanne, who last saw Adrianne in Seattle at Thanksgiving in 2008.

"The following day Tim and David, the other twin, emailed us to say things were very serious and they asked us to pray for them."

Adrianne and Adam were watching the race near the finish line of the marathon when the second bomb went off.

The couple, who only moved to Boston in 2011, were both knocked to the ground by the blast, which blew off part of Adrianne's left leg.

"They were right at the impact of the second bomb," said Leanne, whose mother Kathleen and Adrianne's mother Chauni are first cousins.

"Adrianne's foot was blown off – which doesn't bear thinking about – and Adam was hit really badly with shrapnel.

"Despite his injuries, Adam pulled off his belt and used it as a tourniquet for Adrianne's wound and he helped her up and dragged her into a nearby restaurant."

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Raymond Kelly said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told Boston investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother had discussed going to New York to detonate their remaining explosives. They said they decided it spontaneously.

The plan fell apart after the Tsarnaev brothers were intercepted by police.


Two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, have been blamed for planting and detonating two pressure-cooker bombs during the marathon.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (26) was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (19) lies wounded in a Boston hospital and has been providing information to authorities.

Belfast Telegraph


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