BEIJING (CNN) — Like thousands of others, the graduate student from China crowded with friends around the finish line at the Boston Marathon to cheer on the runners.
She had moved to the city in time for the fall semester, making friends and soaking up new experiences.
The marathon was a chance to be a part of an annual ritual so cherished by Bostonians.
And so she went Monday to Copley Square with two friends in tow.
They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Two bombs went off within 12 seconds of each other near the finish line, killing three.
The graduate student was one of them.
Who she was
Boston University identified her on Wednesday as Lingzi Lu, a graduate student in mathematics and statistics.
The second student was in stable condition at Boston Medical Center and the third student was not hurt, BU Today said.
Her photos on Facebook show her enjoying a simple student life of home-cooked meals in modest surrounding, smiles over warm cups of coffee, laughs with friends.
The day she died, she posted a picture of her breakfast to the Chinese social media website Weibo — bread and a bowl of fruit.
“My wonderful breakfast,” she commented in English with a smiley face emoticon.
Then an explosion
After the two bombs ended the road race, Lu’s roommate posted a message on Facebook.
“God bless the Boston community,” wrote Li Jing, also from China.
The blasts wounded 183 others.
Li learned of that injury — but didn’t yet know her friend had died.
“I have been unable to reach her,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Everyone is very worried. I have reported this to BU Police. If anyone knows anything, please let me know. Thanks for everyone’s help.”
Friends offered suggestions on how to find her.
“Li Jing, I am so sad for your roommate…I will pray for her and pray for your soul,” one posted on Facebook.
Boston University’s president announced the graduate student’s death in an open letter published Tuesday on the school’s website and confirmed that her friend was wounded.
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family and friends of both victims,” wrote college President Robert Brown.
At first, the university declined to release Lu’s name at her family’s request, but the school later received permission from a family representative, BU spokesman Colin Riley said.
The Chinese consulate in New York issued a statement of condolence.
In China, news of the death set off a wave of sympathy on social media sites.
By Wednesday, netizens there had added more than 17,000 comments to the victim’s last Weibo post about her breakfast.
“Wish there’s no pain in heaven! May the girl rest in peace!” WenyiqingnianHarryChen posted.
Tuesday evening, two university chaplains held a campus vigil for her and the other victims. It was followed by a town hall-style meeting for those in search of comfort and counseling.
The graduate student died alongside Krystle Campbell, 29, and Martin Richard, 8.
Her friend, Zhou Danling, is on her way to recovery at a Boston hospital.
A love of math and chance
Lu had worked hard to achieve. She won an academic scholarship to the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she received accolades for her math skills.
She went on to Boston University to pursue that passion and was working on a master’s degree in statistics.
She would have known how slim the chances were that something like this could happen in a crowd of thousands cheering the runners on a sunny day.
CNN’s Steven Jiang reported from Beijing; CNN’s Ben Brumfield reported and wrote from Atlanta.