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              This undated photo made available by Brian Gross shows his sister-in-law Nicole Gross, and brother Michael Gross of Charlotte, N.C. The Gross couple were seriously injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013. Nicole's sister, Erica Brannock of Maryland, who was also injured, were cheering their mother, who was running the race. (AP Photo/courtesy of Brian Gross)
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This undated photo made available by Brian Gross shows his sister-in-law Nicole Gross, and brother Michael Gross of Charlotte, N.C. The Gross couple were seriously injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013. Nicole's sister, Erica Brannock of Maryland, who was also injured, were cheering their mother, who was running the race. (AP Photo/courtesy of Brian Gross)

Charlotte couple hurt in explosions

By Mitch Weiss

The Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — For Michael and Nicole Gross, the trip to the Boston Marathon was supposed to be a family celebration.


The Charlotte couple was there to offer support to Nicole's mother, Carol Downing, who was running in the 26.2-mile race. Nicole's sister, Erika Brannock of Maryland, was with them.

As they waited in the crowd, Michael Gross edged closer to the street to get a photo of Downing when she crossed the finish line. He never got a chance to take the shot. Just before Downing was to arrive at the spot where she would celebrate her completion of the famously difficult course, two bombs exploded, and chaos ensued.

Michael Gross received third-degree burns to his head, face and arms, as well as lacerations, his brother Brian Gross said Tuesday.

Nicole and Erika were about 10 feet away when the blasts occurred. One of Erika's legs was partially amputated, and one of Nicole's legs was fractured. It would take Michael Gross three or four hours to locate his wife before they both finally ended up at the same hospital, Brian Gross said.

All three were recovering Tuesday in Boston hospitals. Downing was not injured.

"It's scary and frightening, and you can't believe it's happening to your family," Gross said, noting that he was still in shock.

Michael Gross is a general manager at the Charlotte Athletic Club, where Nicole, 31, works as a personal trainer, Brian Gross said. The two triathletes traveled to Boston the Thursday before the marathon.

"The family wanted to get together to celebrate to support Carol," he said.

Brian Gross said he has been calling Nicole's mother and other family members for updates. He said Brannock's injuries are very serious.

"It's critical. She's lost a lot of blood."

He paused for a moment.

"Last night was a rough night. I have two small girls that are learning about this. ...We're trying to give them the PG version of things to let them know that everyone is alive and that bad things happen. It's tough when it happens to your family and explaining it to the young ones," he said.

Bless your heart
Bless your heart