Even as he watched live coverage of the violent explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday, it didn't occur to Patrick McGrath that his sister Victoria, a student at Northeastern University there, was in danger.
So when the ringing telephone pulled the family's attention away from CNN, they never imagined it would be a Massachusetts hospital calling to tell them that Victoria, 20, was one of more than 170 people hurt by two crude bombs packed with shrapnel. She was being treated for serious injuries to her legs.
"She goes to college in Boston," said Patrick, 15, "but I didn't know she was going to the marathon."
Anxious to be at their daughter's side, especially after watching the blood and chaos at the marathon finish line, James and Jill McGrath immediately left their Weston home for Boston, Patrick said.
Still at the hospital Tuesday afternoon, James McGrath said his daughter was doing as well as could be expected.
"She's going to be OK," he said. "She's not going to have an amputation."
A first round of surgery on Victoria's wounded left leg went well and she was awake and alert, he said. A second operation was scheduled for later in the week, he said.
The oldest of three children, Victoria McGrath attended Weston High School and is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in business administration and accounting at Northeastern University, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Northeastern classmate Bobby Namdar said it wasn't surprising that McGrath would have attended the marathon. Many students of the school, which is near the marathon's Boylston Street finish line, are spectators along the last leg of the race.
"It's something that everyone goes to," said Namdar, 18, who is originally from Long Island. "It's kind of like a Boston holiday. We're off from school, so everyone goes."
Because there were so many people at the event, Namdar said he didn't see McGrath at all before he went back to the university. He didn't realize anything was amiss until he was back on campus and heard sirens, the first indication many students had of the awful scene unfolding a mile away.
The bombing at the marathon has students at Northeastern on edge.
Hanging out with friends in her dorm room after deciding to skip the marathon, Northeastern student Taylor Blydenburgh heard one of the explosions, but shrugged it off. She figured the loud pop came from a flare at the marathon and didn't turn on her TV until the sirens had been blaring down the street for about 15 minutes.
"I realized something must have been up because there was just too many," she said, estimating that the emergency vehicles would continue speeding back and forth for another two hours.
Namdar, who didn't hear the explosion, said friends who were shopping at the nearby Prudential Center Plaza also didn't realize the loud popping noise had come from a bomb. Instead, they cowered in shops expecting a gunman to appear, he said.
Soon, though, news spread of the three dead and hundreds who had lost limbs or been disfigured by the bombs . Still, Blydenburgh and Namdar said they didn't realize anyone at Northeastern had been hurt until Tuesday.
Blydenburgh said she saw a posting about McGrath on a mutual Facebook friend's page. Namdar learned about his classmate's injuries when his statistics teacher explained her absence in the 3 p.m. class.
"The university didn't say anything (in emails about the incident) so I just assumed it didn't affect our university," Namdar said.
The lack of information from university officials and the increased police presence on campus made it hard to feel safe even 24 hours after the bombing.
"There are mostly families and students here," Blydenburgh said. "It's not really somewhere you think of crime. I think that's why everyone is on edge."
Reports that other bombs had been disarmed and rumors that others may still exist added to the tension. "Nobody is really leaving the area," Blydenburgh said. "A lot of the students don't feel like it's over. I still feel like something else is going to happen."
And the knowledge that a classmate was hurt Monday just made the terror hit closer to home Tuesday.
"This was the first time I'd heard about anyone at Northeastern being hurt," he said. "She's such a sweet girl. She's also beautiful. She's such a great person that it's terrible this happened to her."