Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 16, 2013

Locals describe chaos after Boston bombings

BY JAMES COOK and DENNIS CHASE
Traverse City Record-Eagle

— BOSTON — Michael Jarvis was lying on a bed in the medical tent Monday, moments after finishing the Boston Marathon, when two bombs exploded nearby.

In a matter of minutes, "things got crazy real fast," the Suttons Bay resident said.

Officials started moving all the runners to a different part of the tent, then "they kicked us out altogether," Jarvis said.

"They started making announcements to make room and finally they said they had a situation," he said. "They're playing it as calm as they could. But at some point it becomes obvious. And then I was watching them wheel victims in. I saw a man go by who had both of his legs blown off below the knees."

The bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 130 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.

A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course in what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack.

Authorities shed no light on a motive or who may have carried out the bombings, and police said they had no suspects in custody. Authorities in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Jarvis, a counselor/administrator at The Leelanau School, was injured about a half-mile from the finish line. A runner who had already finished and a Marine helped him the rest of the way.

"I probably have a stress fracture or broken leg of some kind, but really, I got off easy today," he said.

Volunteers were quick to assist Jarvis, picking up his medal, giving him a fleece to stay warm and then helping him find his family after the explosions.

"It took over an hour to find my family," he said. "That was a really frightening time, because I knew they had been trying to watch me at the finish line. I didn't know if they were there when the bomb went off. They weren't. They hadn't made it there. Finally, we were reunited. That was such a huge relief to all of us. We sat in the middle of the street and bawled for a couple minutes."

Then he went seeking treatment for his injury.

"I've been tooling around Boston in a swiped wheelchair, trying to find a hospital where I can get treated," he said. "No luck so far.

"They won't even talk right now, given what's going on. There's police and SWAT teams everywhere. I'm at Tufts Medical Center, and there's a policeman at the door. I'm in a wheelchair and he said he doesn't want to know the story. He just says, 'You gotta get out of here.'"

Traverse City's Julie Moses was a block away, picking up her medal, at the time of the explosions.

"The first one was loud, and with all the electronics and cameras over the finish line, I thought it might be a generator or something of that sort," Moses said. "And then when you turned around and saw the amount of smoke and then heard the second one going off right after that ... we knew something bad had happened."

Police, she said, told people to go back to their hotels.

"You can't believe the number of spectators," said Moses, a registered nurse in the operating room at Munson Medical Center. "From literally the start until the finish, there were people everywhere. Unfortunately, it was a prime target.

"I feel for those that are injured and have lost loved ones."

Joe Moses, Julie's husband, was with her afterwards.

"Everybody was stunned," Joe Moses said. "Everybody looked at each other like, 'Is this really what we think it is?' We all pretty much felt like it was serious. It was frightening. But it really didn't hit us until we were a couple blocks down the road that this was really happening here.

"It's a pretty numbing experience, I'll have to say, given what we've been through the last 12 years. You just kind of wait and wonder when it's going to happen again. But you can't live your life in fear."

Moses, who ran the 26.2-mile distance in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 29 seconds, was thankful afterwards. She finished about 10 minutes before the first blast.

"I stopped at mile 18 and had some water and walked a bit and I stopped at mile 25 and got one sip of Gatorade to take it all in," Moses said. "I'm glad I didn't walk too long."

Krista Scott, a physical therapist at Excel Rehabilitation, was two blocks away, catching up with loved ones at a designated family meeting area.

"The first explosion startled everybody," she said. "Then we saw the smoke, followed by another explosion. We didn't know where or what. Sirens immediately started going off. We just started walking away from the race course at that point. Luckily, my entire family was at the family meeting station. Everybody was accounted for."

Just minutes before the explosion, Scott was telling family members about her great race day experience. She finished in 3:30:13.

"I ran a great race," she said. "Less than five minutes before (the explosions), I was telling my family how amazing the Boston Marathon was, how supportive the crowd was, how it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life. Now this black cloud is part of that experience as well.

"Words don't even describe the scene here right now. It's almost surreal."

Former Benzie Central runner Michael Waterson finished the race a couple hours earlier, but was still milling about in the area with friends. He ran a personal best 2:39:17.

"It's hard to think about that (time) now," he said.

Honor's Gary Lake was pulled from the course at mile 25.

"They said there was an incident, that's all the police told us," he said.

Lake said he hit a stiff wind once he crested Heartbreak Hill near the 20-mile mark, and that wind coming off the ocean slowed him down or otherwise he might have been at or near the finish line when disaster struck.

"Had I run my normal pace that was the side of the street I would have been on (at the finish), too," he said. "The wind saved me."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.