Story highlights

Victoria McGrath dies in a car crash in Dubai, Northeastern University says

McGrath was severely injured by shrapnel in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

News of her death devastates rescuers who helped save her after bombing

CNN  — 

A Northeastern University student who survived the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was killed in a car accident in Dubai, the school said.

Victoria McGrath, who was severely injured by shrapnel in the Boston attack, died in a crash while on a personal trip overseas, school officials said Monday. Priscilla Perez Torres, another student at the school, was also killed.

“Victoria and Priscilla were vibrant, beloved members of our community,” Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun said in a statement. “Their passing leaves a grievous absence in our community and in our hearts. This is a heartbreaking loss to their families, friends, and to all of us in the Northeastern family.”

McGrath was hit by shrapnel from the first of two bombs that went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, CNN affiliate WFXT-TV reported. Her legs were severely injured in the attack, which killed three people and injured at least 264.

Victoria McGrath was injured by shrapnel in the Boston Marathon attack.

Rescuers who helped save McGrath’s life in 2013 said they were devastated by news of her death.

“After the Boston Marathon bombing, Victoria become a major part of my life as well as my family’s. It’s been said that I helped to save her life, but the truth is Victoria saved my life after the marathon, as her love, support and friendship helped myself and my family deal with the acts of 4/15/13,” Jimmy Plourde, a Boston firefighter who carried McGrath to a medical tent after the attack, told WFXT.

Bystander Bruce Mendelsohn, who also helped McGrath after the attack, told CNN affiliate WCVB-TV, “She really seized life. She lived life after the marathon with a zeal and a zest for life that was an example to many of us. There was a spark that she brought to everyone’s life and now that spark is extinguished.”

McGrath’s parents said caring for others is what motivated her. “Her compassion first revealed itself when she was working with underprivileged children and children with disabilities. In recent years, she had spent her time helping homecoming American veterans who were recovering from trauma of their own,” Jim and Jill McGrath said in a statement distributed through Northeastern.

The McGraths invited people to carry on their daughter’s work and donate to Four Block, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans. Donations to Four Block, in remembrance of Victoria McGrath, go toward building career readiness programs for returning veterans in Boston.

School officials did not release details about the crash.

The university president praised both students for their impact on campus.

“(Victoria) was devoted to helping others through leadership in student organizations and community service work,” he said. “Priscilla was passionate about travel and working on issues related to nutrition and women’s health. Each were kind, talented young women, with exceptional futures before them.”

McGrath was a business administration and accounting student from Weston, Connecticut, WFXT reported.

She and Perez had been set to graduate this year, the school said.

CNN’s Lawrence Crook contributed to this report.