Michelle Larson was about half a mile from the finish line when the first bomb went off at Monday’s Boston Marathon. She said at first, she thought someone had set off a cannon.
“I thought, ‘Oh, they’re celebrating.’ And then the second bomb went off, and it was like 9/11 all over again,” said Larson, who was still a block or so over from the final straightaway, and unable to see the awful scene ahead.
The worst thing for her was the aftermath.
Unable to go immediately to the family meeting area a couple of blocks away from the finish, and unable, like everyone else in Boston, to get a cellphone call or a text message through, she couldn’t contact her husband, Keith. The thought that he might have been waiting on the sidewalk at the finish, camera in hand, was agonizing.
Keith, thankfully, was well away from the blast. But the hour the Eastern High School teacher spent being herded by police and waiting for emergency vehicles to pass was traumatic.
“My oldest son died when he was age 4, 14 years ago, and I was so scared that I had lost my husband because I had not heard from him,” she said Tuesday. “Once I found out he was OK and saw him, I was totally bawling out of happiness and relief.”
Kokomo runner Jay Priest and his friend, Tony White, both finished close to 90 minutes before the blast, and had finished picking up their gift bags and were on the street walking back to the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel a few blocks away.
“It was one of the loudest things I’ve ever heard. It shook us — we could feel it,” Priest said. “I don’t think the second one was quite as loud, but when we heard it, I thought, ‘Oh my God, that can’t be good.’ ”