Brittany Loring, another Boston College MBA candidate and Cherney's best friend, joined her. They hail from opposite sides of the country, but after meeting two years ago they learned that they shared a love of running, the same birthday month — April — and an overachieving streak. Loring is pursuing a dual law and business degree. Cherney is on her second graduate degree, having already earned a master's in gerontology. They are slated to graduate in three weeks.
The day of the marathon, they had been tracking Zipin's progress and made it to the finish line in time to blow their friend kisses. Then came a deafening explosion as the first bomb went off.
In the chaos that followed, emergency workers took Cherney and Loring to separate hospitals. Loring ended up at Boston Medical Center, and Cherney was taken to Beth Israel. Both had been blitzed with BBs, nails and other shrapnel that had been packed inside the bomb.
"Where is Liza?" Loring kept asking, her father Dan Loring recalled. In the days that followed, the friends eventually were able to connect by phone, including Tuesday when Loring called to wish Cherney a happy birthday. Loring's birthday was the day of the attack. Both women turned 29.
Friends who have visited Cherney said she is expected to make a full recovery and was in good spirits. Her family, who flew from California to be at her side, declined to be interviewed.
She and Loring were supposed to celebrate their birthdays together the Saturday after the race. Although it's delayed, the friends say, the date is one they plan to keep.
'I am blessed'
He's a carpenter and skillful pool player whose hands are wrapped in bandages to cover the burns and shrapnel injuries. The legs are bandaged, too.
And Jarrod Clowery, 35, needs to remind callers to speak up if they want to know about what he experienced as he stood in the Boston Marathon crowds closest to the second explosion. His hearing is down to about 15 percent in one ear and only "moderately good" in the other, he said.
But, he said, more than once: "I am blessed."
Three of Clowery's buddies who were with him each lost limbs in the bombings, Clowery said Monday from his bed at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, ticking off their names: two brothers and their friend. "Get that down. I am blessed."
Clowery was raised in Stoneham, Mass., a town nine miles north of Boston. Recently living in Rhode Island, he was at the marathon to cheer on an acquaintance — and to be cheered up himself after a long winter with little work.
They heard the first explosion, and Clowery shouted at his friends to hop the metal fencing. He got both of his hands onto the railing, but before they all could clamber over, another bomb went off. Clowery believes he already was in the air, clearing the metal guardrail, when the explosion hit, which may have saved his legs. His friends still were grounded. "They're all big guys," he said. "I think they spared some other people when they took that impact."
Marathoner Jac Folkert felt so good at Mile 18 that when she saw her cheering husband, she ran to him, kissed him and said, "I'll see you in eight miles."
It didn't quite turn out that way. Married in January, the newlywed couple from Redondo Beach, Calif., both 42, narrowly escaped tragedy at Folkert's 40th marathon, her sixth in Boston.
Darrel "D" Folkert rode a train to the finish line. He chose a spot on Boylston Street, close to a restaurant and a Starbucks. After the first blast, somebody suggested they move into the street. But the second device detonated.
Folkert's eardrums were ruptured, his lower legs were burned and bleeding, his black running pants shredded.
"I didn't realize my clothes were still smoldering and on fire until I got across the street," he said.
Bystanders helped him, and an ambulance took him to a hospital. He lost his cellphone.
"Just not knowing where my wife was really hard over the next couple of hours," he said.
Jac Folkert was about to turn onto Boylston Street when she heard two bangs and then sirens. Emergency workers pushed runners back. When she finally got to her backpack and phone, her heart dropped.
"There were more messages than I could imagine — phone calls, texts, voice mails. . . . None were from him," she said. She tried him. No answer.
D's sister called. He was at Brigham and Women's Hospital. She raced there, still in her white visor and racing bib with the number 20617.
"Seeing her come around the corner was the best thing I could ask for," D Folkert said.
Trying to understand
Denise Spenard always loved the end of the Boston Marathon: Having run an eight-mile race the day before this year's, she knew just how hard the runners had to train.
Spenard, 46, of Manchester N.H., was watching the race from the outdoor patio at Atlantic Fish, cheering on friends, when she heard an explosion that sounded like a cannon. "Oh my God, was that real?" she asked her friends. She saw smoke rising. Then she felt a sharp pain in her side.
Spenard was thrown to the ground, then crawled with her friends into the restaurant. Once inside, she lifted up her sweatshirt and saw a clean hole in her side, surrounded by blood. She remembers thinking she had been shot.
A woman came inside the restaurant, telling everyone: "You don't want to go out there." Spenard raced out the back door, and a friend used a scarf to bandage her. They ran down the street, trying in vain to find a taxi, when a stranger approached a car and told the driver, "Please take her to the hospital."
The doctors at Massachusetts General told Spenard she had a piece of shrapnel in her side. "My injuries are going to heal, but that fear we were being shot at — that's what's in my mind the most," she said.
She has been struggling since to make sense of the tumult.
"I'm numb. I don't know what to feel, because I'm not feeling anything," said Spenard, who went back to work Monday to return to some semblance of normalcy. "I was one of the first lucky ones. . . . I get to run. I didn't lose my legs."
Officer doing well
The Boston Marathon has always been part of Donohue family lore, even back when the family name was more Italian than Irish. In 1899, Larry Brignolia became the first Massachusetts winner, finishing at the now glacial pace of 2 hours 54 minutes 38 seconds.
On April 15, Brignolia's grandson — the family has lost count of how many "greats" precede the title — was there, too. He was a protector, not a participant. But Richard "Dic" Donohue's actions and sacrifice as an officer will put his name beside his relative's in the annals of the event.
Donohue, 33, is an officer with the Metropolitan Bay Transportation Authority. He was four miles from the explosions, but he was one of many officers to confront the suspected attackers early Friday in the Boston suburb of Watertown. He was seriously wounded by a bullet that severed two branches of a femoral artery in his right leg.
At Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, doctors said Donohue's heart stopped beating and took 45 minutes to steady.
Last Sunday, he squeezed his wife's hand on command for the first time. On Monday, his breathing tube was removed and he muttered his first words, asking for his 6-month-old son.
"He's doing really well," said Donohue's 32-year-old brother, Edward, a police officer in the family's home town of Winchester, Mass.
Richard Donohue followed Edward to the Virginia Military Institute, then joined the Navy.
His brother once teased him that he would never see action as a transit cop. "But there he is jumping into the midst of a gunfight in Watertown and making Transit very proud, and making our entire family, and I assume our entire state and country, very proud," Edward Donohue said.