Rhode Island Governor Signs Bill Inspired by Marathon Bombing Survivor’s Struggle

Heather Abbott had trouble applying for the state's victim compensation fund because the attack happened in Massachusetts.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Newport’s Heather Abbott was watching the 2013 Boston Marathon while waiting in line at the Forum restaurant, when the bombs went off on Boylston Street. After she was carried to safety by former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, Abbott had her left leg amputated at the hospital.

Back in her home state, however, she found difficulty applying for Rhode Island’s victim compensation fund, since the attack happened in Massachusetts. Her initial claim was denied, and all throughout her grueling recovery, she had to fight through the appeal process while figuring out how to pay for her prosthetics.

“It was another thing to do when you’re trying to learn how to walk, and you’re on medication, adjusting to getting blown up by a bomb,” said Abbott, who established an eponymous foundation to help others amputees last year.

Abbott joined Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Tuesday for the signing ceremony of a bill that will allow residents to submit a claim, regardless of where the attack took place.

“It’s frankly the least we can do,” said Raimondo, who was State Treasurer when Abbott first submitted her claim. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Rhode Island’s victim compensation fund, which paid out roughly $1.3 million in claims last year, provides aid to residents and their families if they are victims of violent crime. The fund covers up to $25,000 for medical bills and loss of earnings, but a provision in the existing bill excluded victims of crime that occurs outside the Ocean State.