Runners from the Semiahmoo Peninsula were safe on both sides of the Boston Marathon finish line Monday, when two explosions rocked the area, killing at least two and injuring dozens more.
South Surrey lawyer Alan Benson, 60, had finished the race and was about six blocks away when the unimaginable happened.
“All of a sudden we heard this massive explosion. I could see this huge ball of smoke where the finish line is,” Benson told Peace Arch News from his hotel about an hour later.
“I just can’t believe, I can’t believe I saw what I saw when I looked down Boylston Avenue. It was big, it was loud and it was frightening. Everyone immediately thought, is this some kind of bomb? It looked like something out of the Middle East or something like that.”
Benson crossed the finish line in three hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds. According to initial reports, the explosions occurred at the 4:09:40 mark, just before noon PDT.
Jim Millington, 61, was among locals who didn’t cross the finish line – he was minutes away at the time of the explosions.
“I am OK. Five minutes from finish line,” he said in a text message to friends back home in South Surrey.
The 2013 Boston Marathon database notes 241 of the nearly 27,000 competitors hail from B.C. Of those, 18 list Surrey as their hometown. Benson said all of the Peninsula-area people he was aware of – competitors and spectators alike – were unharmed.
He described what followed the explosions as “pandemonium everywhere,” as emergency crews made their way to the scene at Copley Square, and attendees tried to connect with friends and relatives.
“Quite a frightening scene, actually,” Benson said. “I was worried about Dee (Makepeace, who started 20 minutes behind Benson). I knew she was coming in after me, and I was worried about my wife and daughter because they were down not far from the finish line.”
Stan Wong texted friends to say his wife, Sally, was shockingly close to the fray.
“If you watch CNN you will see Sally on left hand side of screen wearing pink hat and blue top. Explosion happened just as she was passing the bomb. Thank goodness she was on the far side of the road.”
As of PAN’s deadline, two people had been reported dead, and at least 49 more injured.
Officials reportedly shut down all cellphone service Monday afternoon to prevent remote detonation of more explosive devices.
– with files from Nick Greenizan
TO FIND OUT MORE:
• If you are concerned for a friend or family member who ran the Boston Marathon today, you can see their last check-in here:raceday.baa.org/individual.html.
• Google has a people finder: http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions.
• Marathon runners who are safe and families looking for loved ones can visit the Red Cross:http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
• If you are looking for missing persons related to the explosions, call the Mayor’s Missing Person’s hotline at 1-617-635-4500.