WHEN their photographs flashed across the world within minutes of the Boston marathon bombings, they became the faces of America's worst terrorist attack since September 11.
Yesterday, the names of three victims whose anguished expressions are now familiar to millions emerged with details of the terrible injuries they sustained in the finish-line blasts. The blonde-haired woman pictured sitting, dumbstruck, on a blood-soaked pavement seconds after the explosions was identified as Nicole Gross – a fitness instructor from Charlotte, North Carolina.
As the bombs detonated, Mrs Gross (31) was waiting with her husband and her sister Erika Brannock (29) to congratulate their mother, Carol Downing, on completing the 26-mile race.
Mrs Gross, who had been excited after coaching her mother, was yesterday undergoing a third round of surgery after suffering two broken legs, a severed Achilles' tendon and a fractured ankle.
"She remembers it all," her mother told the 'Charlotte Observer' newspaper, "and just wishes that she didn't."
Mrs Gross is a triathlete and works for Charlotte Athletic Club, where she coaches cycling and swimming as well as fitness. Her husband, Michael Gross, was treated at the scene for cuts and burns.
Meanwhile, the pale-faced man rushed from the scene in a wheelchair, staring at what remained of his legs while a bystander pinched one of his arteries closed, was named as Jeff Bauman of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Mr Bauman (27) was at the finish line to greet girlfriend Erin Hurley, who was running the race.
His family learned he was injured when his stepsister Erika saw the grisly photograph of his wounds.
His father, Jeff Snr, saw the same image just moments later, when he logged on to Facebook after being called by Erika and asked frantically whether or not he had seen "the picture".
"My son was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Mr Bauman Sr said on Facebook. "Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, they did help greatly."
Mr Bauman's family credited Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant and Red Cross volunteer wearing a Stetson hat in the photograph with their son, for saving his life by stemming his bleeding.
A young woman who was pictured lying on the pavement and being closely tended to by a man, was identified as Sydney Corcoran, an 18-year-old secondary schoolgirl from Lowell, a suburb of Boston.
The image prompted speculation that the man was the boyfriend of Sydney, whose legs were severely injured by shrapnel from the blasts, or might even have been proposing to her in her final moments. In fact, her family said, he was a stranger to whom they owed "unspeakable gratitude".
Sydney had been at the finish line with her parents to cheer on her aunt, Carmen Accabo, who was running.
Sydney's mother Celeste, a hairdresser, had her legs amputated due to serious wounds. Her father, Kevin, escaped with minor injuries. Her brother, Tyler, had cancelled plans to join them at the last moment.