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April 20. 2014 11:35PM

NH trooper refuses to be called hero


Joel (left) and Jackie Dalton leave mementos Sunday for Martin Richard, one of the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The 118th running of the Boston Marathon is today. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

WINDHAM -- Like many who put themselves in harm's way during last year's Boston Marathon, New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Sean Haggerty doesn't like to be called a hero.

"This isn't about me at all," said the Windham resident, who will run his ninth Boston Marathon today in a show of solidarity for those injured and killed during the 2013 marathon.

The state trooper, now in his mid-40s, was minutes from crossing the finish line when the first bomb went off. After helping to carry a fallen man out of harm's way, he stopped once again to assist an injured woman.

Haggerty crossed the finish line still holding a belt as a tourniquet on the victim while a medic pushed her wheelchair, making him the race's last official finisher. He returned to the scene later that week as a member of the SWAT team searching for the surviving bombing suspect.

But he prefers not to dwell on his experiences that fateful day, or in the difficult days to follow.

"For me, this is about honoring the families that lost loved ones and those who suffered from injuries," Haggerty said Friday.

As a member of the New Hampshire State Police team, Haggerty will join 100 other law enforcement officials from Massachusetts and New Hampshire today, including a dozen other current or retired New Hampshire state troopers running in the marathon to raise funds for Cops For Kids With Cancer.

The charity assists families in covering costs associated with cancer treatments that aren't typically covered by insurance carriers, including travel expenses. Over the past four years, Cops For Kids With Cancer has contributed more than $1 million and assisted more than 200 families from around New England, according to the organization's website.

State Police Sgt. Scott Gilbert said this is the team's first year running in support of the charity, though over the years he and other runners have supported various other worthy causes, including the Wounded Warriors Project.

This year State Police are hoping to raise $10,000 for Cops for Kids With Cancer.

Gilbert, who also ran in the 2013 marathon but had already crossed the finish line when the bombs exploded, said he wasn't surprised by Haggerty's actions last year.

"I'm not surprised by it in the least. He did exactly what he was trained to do," Gilbert said.

This year will be Haggerty's sixth consecutive Boston Marathon; he ran his first marathon some 20 years ago.

"Like a lot of people, I decided to do my first run because it was something I wanted to accomplish for myself," Haggerty said. "And with each year I ran, I'd say 'Hmm, maybe I'll take a break this year.'"

After last year's experience, however, Haggerty's reaction was quite different.

"I knew right away that I had to run again," he said.Haggerty said he finds continued inspiration in the countless stories of hope, recovery and survival in the wake of the 2013 tragedy.

"It's those stories that keep me going: not only the stories of the injured and their families, but the stories of the first responders who were there on the front lines that day," Haggerty said. "That's what keeps me going."

aguilmet@newstote.com


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