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 2)

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.

Samuelson was coming out of the shower in her hotel room when what sounded like thunder reverberated from two blocks away. Her initial thought was a blown electrical transformer. She soon learned otherwise.

Bridget Thomas of Standish, a student at Boston College, jumped into the race at Mile 21 to run alongside her friend.

Within a mile, runners were passing the word there had been an explosion.

"We made it to about Mile 25. They had it all barricaded off," she said. "They told us all to go home."

"The friend I was running with, her parents were at the finish line, so it was real hectic for a while," she said. They finally were able to get a cellphone signal and connect.

Back at the BC campus, police with dogs circulated through the school. Students huddled around television sets watching the news.

Zachary Heiden, 39, of Portland had run past Kenmore Square and was about a mile from the finish line when the runners in front of him began to slow down and bunch up.

At first, he thought, the runners had been slowed by the large crowds of people watching the race. But then word was passed to him from the runners in front that there had been an explosion near the finish line.

He said all the runners stopped and stayed put in "lockdown" mode for about an hour. They then walked about a mile to climb on buses that took them away from the city center.

Mike McMahan, 41, of Maple Grove, Minn., was gathering his gear from a bus after the race, his 20th marathon but first time in Boston, when he heard the first explosion.

"It was before the arch of the finish," he said. "The first was a plume of smoke, gray-white. Then probably 10 seconds later came the second one. I saw flames coming from the second one."

As he spoke from inside the Copley Plaza Hotel, his wife, Krista, was still on the course. They made contact when she borrowed a cellphone, and told him she had been diverted at Mile 25½.

"I'm not sure how she's going to get here," he said. "I'll feel better when she's here."

McMahan said he had flashbacks from Sept. 11, 2001, when he and his wife were on a flight to Detroit and news of the terrorist attacks prompted authorities to order the plane turned around and sent back to Minneapolis.

"It's craziness," he said.

Kim Marcotte of Falmouth, Maine, had come to cheer on Piers and Marcotte's sister.

"She saw it happen," Piers said. "They tried to get back to their car and get back to their hotel, but it was (locked down, meaning people weren't being allowed in or out)."

At 5:30, Piers made contact with Marcotte, who had not been allowed back into her hotel.

"She's still walking on the street with luggage," Piers reported at 6 p.m. Monday. "No one will let them in her hotel, where her kids are. Her kids are inside with her father."

Piers, who had worried earlier about the large concentration of people near the starting line, said: "I haven't thought (such dark thoughts) since 9/11. That's not the way my mind thinks, but it certainly did today."

Mixon and Arredondo sat in Mixon's daughter's apartment Monday night, trying to come to grips with what had just happened.

Arredondo's sweatshirt was smeared with blood. So, too, were the cluster of flags he had somehow held onto as they retreated from the finish line.

Mixon said it had been a horrific experience.

"I'm in shock. We're both still in shock."

Staff Writers Tom Bell and Bill Nemitz contributed to this report.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:



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