Three hundred seventy-seven New Hampshire residents were competing in Boston today when two explosions erupted in the crowds near the finish line of the race. An untold number more were in Boston as spectators or volunteers.
Ronald and Karen Brassard of Epsom and their daughter were injured in the blast, but are going to be fine, according to a relative.
Matt Fowler of Northwood works for AMI graphics – a Strafford based company that provides signage for the finishing area. Fowler and other AMI employees were standing across the street when the first explosion rent the air on Boylston street at 2:50pm, or 4 hours and nine minutes race time.
“Luckily it was away from the grandstand,” Fowler notes, “because the grandstand, the bleachers, they were full of people.”
Fowler says the area cleared relatively quickly, which was helped by the presence of many police officers. “They acted really quick,” he remembers, “they started tearing down a lot of the display elements for the finish line to make sure there was nothing under there. They were taking precautions for anyone who said they saw a bag.”
While there were around 23,000 runners in the race, comparatively few were near the finish at the time of the explosion.
Rob Knight, a Hopkinton native, finished about fifteen minutes before the bombs went off. Knight says he was waiting to get his clothes from a baggage bus when the first explosion rent the air on Boylston street. His first reaction was disbelief, then dread. “I was just trying to think what could that be besides a bomb? That can’t be a bomb,” he says.
Knight was soon stuck in the snarl of emergency vehicles and stranded runners. Cell service was out, and the T wasn’t running, making it hard for him to meet up with his wife.
“I just kept walking and walking. And finishing in Boston, the sun had gone in and the sea-breeze was blowing so it was just as cold as the dickens.” Knight thinks it was about 45 minutes until his wife, who had been cheering on top of Heartbreak Hill, found him.
Knight and his wife finally made his way out of the paralyzed heart of the city and back to New Hampshire.
Amanda Burgess of Nashua was running her second Boston Marathon Monday and was at the 25 and a ½ mile marker when runners were stopped.
She learned about the explosions from spectators.
She knew her two children – ages seven and nine – were waiting at the finish line with other family members.
“So at that point I started to panic. I obviously couldn’t get a hold of them and we didn’t know what kind of explosions they were, they just said they were at the finish line. And I knew that between where I was and the finish line, my kids, my sister, her kids, my parents, were all there. It was terrifying. I felt for 30 minutes the crazy terror of someone who’s gone through any kind of situation like this.”
Burgess was eventually able to get a hold of her sister and they reunited in Boston Common. They had been across the street from the blast. None of her family members were hurt.
Manchester Alderman Joyce Craig had just finished running the Boston Marathon, Monday afternoon, minutes before two explosions occurred near the finish line.
“It happened about twenty minutes after I finished the marathon and I was right around Arlington which was four to five blocks away. I heard a loud noise, which initially I thought was one of those fake, patriotic cannons, but when I turned around to look I saw a ton of billowing smoke. And as I was looking, there was another loud noise and more smoke and it was very obvious that this wasn’t a good thing.”
Craig says she and her husband eventually caught up with all twelve Granite Staters they arrived with and returned home safely.