April 17, 2013

'It was all innocent people, just defenseless'

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

A medical responder and Carlos Arredondo, in cowboy hat, run an injured man past the finish line following an explosion at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the race, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

The Associated Press

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit our special section covering the Boston bombings.

"It was really chaos," she said.

Bryan Gattis, a runner from Falmouth, Maine, who now lives in Cambridge, Mass., finished about 15 minutes before the first explosion.

"I was a block up and a block over when the explosion happened. It was just a massive explosion followed five seconds later by a smaller one," he said. "People around me were just in a total standstill and then there was like waves of people running onto the street we were on."

"It was pretty terrifying. I think people knew immediately it was some sort of violent act," Gattis said.

"There was a mad dash to the Esplanade. ... They were frantic," he said. "People were screaming."

People in Maine scrambled to contact loved ones. Those near the race tried to get word out that they were OK. But the cellular telephone networks were overwhelmed and many people couldn't get a signal, adding to the anxiety.

Louis Luchini of Ellsworth said he was worried about his friends who ran in the marathon Monday. About seven runners from Hancock County were in the race, and he was unable to reach two of them on their cellphones.

"I'm just nervous for the people I know who are down there and can't get a hold of them," said Luchini, a Democratic state representative who won the 5-mile road race Sunday in Portland. "It's terrible. It's just an historic race. It's really sad to see something like this happen at such a great event. To me, as a runner, it's mind-blowing anybody would do this."

Sheri Piers of Falmouth is normally the most optimistic of people, yet shortly before the start of Monday's 117th running of the Boston Marathon, Piers looked around at the mass of humanity crowding the town green in Hopkinton and frowned.

"This is bizarre," Piers said. "I was thinking about the 500,000 spectators and I was like, 'What a place, if someone wanted to do something rotten,' and I never think like that."

Piers, 41, completed her run without incident and won $5,000 for finishing second among female masters. Many in the field of more than 23,000 who started the race were diverted from the finish area on Boylston Street or turned away in nearby Newton.

The two powerful explosions in quick succession near the finish line of the marathon resulted in at least three deaths and more than 140 injured.

The tragic events unfolded nearly five hours after the first large wave of 24,662 runners left Hopkinton for the world's most famous marathon, not long after news from a bottom-of-the-ninth Red Sox victory in nearby Fenway Park added to what had been a festive atmosphere.

Authorities reported finding two more devices that were not detonated, as well as a fire at the JFK Library that does not appear to be connected.

"I'm as baffled and confused and upset as anyone," said Freeport's Joan Benoit Samuelson, who had run to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her 1983 victory in Boston that resulted in a world record time.

Seated on a couch in the lobby of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, which was under lockdown for several hours after the blasts, Samuelson put an arm around her son Anders and another around her daughter Abby as husband Scott stood nearby.

"Thank God my family is all here," she said.

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