About 100 feet from the end of the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon, explosions shook the street and sent runners frantically racing for cover. The marathon finish line, normally a festive area of celebration and exhaustion, was suddenly like a war zone.
“These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now,” said Roupen Bastajian, 35, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine. “So many of them. There are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting.”
Had Bastajian run a few strides slower, as he did in 2011, he might have been among the dozens of victims wounded in Monday blasts. Instead, he was among the runners treating other runners, a makeshift emergency medical service of exhausted athletes.
The Boston Marathon, held every year on Patriots’ Day, a state holiday, is usually an opportunity for the city to cheer with a collective roar.
The timing of the explosions — around 2:50 p.m. — was especially devastating because they happened when a high concentration of runners were arriving at the finish line.
This year, more than 23,000 people started the race in near-perfect conditions. Only about 17,580 finished.
Deirdre Hatfield, 27, was steps away from the finish line when she heard a blast.
“When the bodies landed around me I thought: Am I burning? Maybe I’m burning and I don’t feel it,” Hatfield said. “If I blow up, I just hope I won’t feel it.”
She looked inside a Starbucks to her left, where she thought a blast might have occurred. “What was so eerie, you looked in you knew there had to be 100 people in there, but there was no sign of movement,” she said.
New York Times