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Boston marks 5 years since marathon attack with tributes

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  • BOSTON — The bells of Old South Church in Boston rang at 2:49 p.m. to commemorate a citywide moment of silence in honour of Boston Marathon bombing survivors and victims

    It was an emotional moment in a day filled with service projects and ceremonies to remember those impacted by the deadly bombings five years ago.

    Boston began the anniversary of the attacks Sunday with Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker laying wreaths early in the morning at the spots along downtown Boylston Street where two bombs killed three spectators and maimed more than 260 others April 15, 2013.

    Both addressed families and survivors at a private ceremony inside the Boston Public Library.

    “On April 15, 2013, our city changed forever but over the last five years, we have reclaimed hope. We have reclaimed the finish line and Boston has emerged with a new strength, a resilience rooted in love,” Walsh said.

    Jane and Henry Richard, siblings of the youngest victim Martin Richard, and members of the family’s foundation, also spoke.

    Henry Richard urged those listening to follow Martin’s message to “choose kindness and do more.” The family’s foundation was founded in 2014 to connect young people with opportunities for volunteerism and community engagement.

    Victim Lu Lingzi’s uncle, Sherman Yee, was present at the ceremony and private gathering. He said, “The family has been overwhelmed by love and support from all over the world.'” He called Lingzi an “extraordinary girl” who represented the youth that come to the U.S. from China to study.

    “While she didn’t realize her dreams, as her family we invest in the youths through our foundation to keep her memory going,” he said.

    The bombs also killed 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Arlington. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was killed in the line of duty during a confrontation with bomber Tamerlan Tzarneav.

    Roxanne Simmonds was at commemorative ceremonies to honour her son, fallen Boston police officer Dennis Simmonds. Simmonds suffered a head injury on April 19, 2013, during a shootout with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as law enforcement closed in on them.

    He suffered a fatal brain aneurysm a year later assessed to be the result of his injuries from the explosive device. Roxanne Simmonds said “DJ” was “brilliant and fearless — he just loved Boston.”

    The youngest graduate of his class at Lasell College, Dennis Simmonds worked in Mattapan as an officer.

    “It was important for him to be in a community with men and women who look like him,” his mother said. “Individuals of colour working hard to make sure their communities were safe.” She praised Walsh, saying that it was obvious how significant the victims are to the mayor.

    Arreen Andrew, of Boston, said she was in the crowd across the stand when the first bomb went off in 2013.

    “It was sheer panic,” she recalled. “Just this sense of ‘No, this can’t happen to us.'”

    Five years later, while the day is still a reminder of some painful memories, she said it has also become a day about the relationships that have since been formed and “reformed and recreated our entire community.”

    For some, such an anniversary is about planting the seeds of change. Forty-three-year-old Heather Abbott of Newport, Rhode Island hosted a fundraiser for her foundation that supports amputees. Abbott was outside of Forum, a restaurant by the finish line, when the impact of the second bomb blew her through the entrance of the building. Former New England Patriots lineman Matt Chatham and his wife Erin were in the restaurant, and carried Abbott to safety.

    After three surgeries in four days, Abbott’s left leg was amputated below the knee. Her recovery was long, but in 2014, Abbott started her own foundation to help amputees with financial difficulties afford prosthetics and expensive co-payments.

    “I want to make some changes in the world of health insurance and help them understand why people need these devices,” said Abbott.

    Abbott says the foundation has given out 19 prosthetic devices out so far. “They can cost from $15,000 to as much as $100,000,” she said.

    ___

    This story has been corrected to show the last name of the young boy who died is Richard, not Richards.

    Vaishnavee Sharma And Sarah Betancourt, The Associated Press










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    Health

    ‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

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  • HUMBOLDT, Sask. — Mary-Jane Wilkinson is worried about what will happen to families and a community grieving the dead and the injured in a tragic hockey bus crash earlier this month in Saskatchewan.

    Funerals have been held and residents of Humboldt where the junior league Broncos are based face the return to their daily routines.

    Wilkinson, the manager of the Canalta Hotel, experienced grief herself when she lost her husband at a young age. She was left to raise her son Richard by herself.

    Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss, she said.

    “When everybody leaves, which eventually everybody does, then you’re starting your new normal and it’s very tough. The community is going to really have to keep working to make sure the people heal … with the support from the community,” said Wilkinson.

    “Once everybody goes away, they’re actually dealing with it for the first time alone, and I know what that feels like.”

    The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask., on April 6 when their bus and a semi-trailer collided at a rural intersection. Sixteen people, including 10 players, died and 13 were injured. The driver of the truck wasn’t hurt.

    The deputy reeve of the Rural Municipality of Connaught where the crash occurred said the immediate aftermath has been hard for many people.

    “One of our councillors that sits at this table with us was one of the first on scene. He’s struggling,” said Ian Boxall. “The biggest thing right now (is) making sure that these people have what they need to get through this.”

    Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy was part of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos crash in which four of his Western Hockey League teammates died.

    “There’s the shock, and then there’s the grief, and then … part of healing with anything is acceptance,” said Kennedy.

    “We’ve got to find ways to manage those negative thoughts, or those images … or the guilt. We know a lot of guilt comes with people who have come through these types of tragedies.”

    The Psychology Association of Saskatchewan is urging people to reach out for help. Dr. Regan Hart, with the association, said the first thought is with the friends and family of the victims. But she said a tragedy like this is far-reaching. 

    “It could be quite wide-ranging in that sense because a lot of these kids were quite active members of their school groups and their communities,” she said.

    “When it’s someone you know in such a tragic kind of accident, I think it kind of hits close to home for a lot of people especially in a small province and smaller communities that we have here in Saskatchewan.”

    The association compiled a list of mental-health resources for the general public: http://bit.ly/2HjoZIX

    — By Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

    The Canadian Press


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    Health

    Humboldt Broncos player transferred to Calgary hospital for rehabilitation

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  • CALGARY — One of the Humboldt Broncos hockey players injured in a bus crash in Saskatchewan earlier this month has been transferred to Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

    Ryan Straschnitzki, a 19-year old from Airdrie, Alta., was paralyzed from the chest down after a transport truck and the junior hockey team’s bus collided on April 6.

    Sixteen people — including 10 players — were killed and another 13 people were injured.

    Ryan’s father, Tom Straschnitzki, said his son was flown to Calgary from Saskatoon by a medical plane on Thursday afternoon.

    “It’s closer to home, but he’s kind of split because he didn’t want to leave his teammates,” he said.

    Six Broncos players remained at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Two are still in critical condition.

    Straschnitzki’s father said his son still has a long road ahead.

    “I said to him, ‘We’re still in the first period. You’re only on your third shift and there are many more minutes to go,'” said Straschnitzki, who added he hopes his son can get to the point where he can walk again. 

    “He will have his ups and downs. Like I told him, ‘I kicked your butt in novice when you were lazy, so I’m definitely going to do it now.'”

    Straschnitzki said they had a positive experience at the hospital in Saskatoon.

    “The staff and workers have been fantastic,” he said. “People would just come in and donate stuff. We had gift cards and someone brought homemade lasagna in.

    “It’s unbelievable.”

    The players also had visits in hospital from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Olympic hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser and NHL players such as Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres.

    They even had a visit from the Stanley Cup.

    The Canadian Press



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