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Bellevue's Vicki Schoen at the finish line

Jessica Cuffman • Apr 16, 2013 at 12:21 PM

It was about 3 p.m. Monday. Initially, she thought it was an electrical transformer that had malfunctioned near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Seconds later, another explosion followed.  

“I just crossed the finish line and stopped my watch when the explosions went off behind us,” Schoen said Monday afternoon in an interview with the Register. “Debris, flames and smoke were instant.”

Boston police yelled at runners, telling them to keep going, keep running. 

“Those of us that just finished couldn’t move as fast as the police wanted us to move,” Schoen said. “Instantly the volunteers stepped in to push us along as quickly as we could move.”

As law enforcement officials sorted through the chaos of Monday’s premiere race, they found two other explosive devices near the finish line, according to the Associated Press. 

As of late Monday, the toll stood at three dead and at least 144 injured, according to media reports. 

Schoen was among a handful of local runners who participated in the marathon.

Others included David Wallingford, also of Bellevue, and John Kolesar and Julie DiCeasar, both of Fremont.

Their friends posted messages on the Fremont Elite Runner’s Club Facebook page, providing updates as word came in that the four were safe. 

Cell phones and landlines in the Boston area were inundated Monday, prompting racers and others to post updates on Facebook pages and websites.  

Runners Kimberly Bennett and Cole Hanley, of Sandusky, were safe late Monday with friends who went to the race to show support. Larren Wikel, who unofficially ran the last 16 miles of the marathon with Bennett, also escaped unharmed. 

Bennett, Hanley and Wikel were with Kim Simmons and Wendy Nitschke at the Westin Hotel when they heard two big booms. They had just put Bennett’s parents, nephew and their exchange student on a train to the suburbs, and they were waiting for another friend to finish the race, Wikel said. 

Eric Opdyke, race director for the Cedar Point Rev3 Triathlon, finished about a minute before the explosions.

“He showed up and there was great relief,” Wikel said. “The only information we have is from the TV in the bar of the restaurant we are in.”

The group spent the remainder of the day in a restaurant about two blocks from the finish line, thinking ahead and booking new hotel rooms since their hotel was 15 miles away and their car was at the train station.

“There’s some chaos and uncertainty outside,” Wikel said.

Limited to updates from their smartphones and from the TV in the bar — a TV with no volume — they spent the day in their running clothes.  

Others near the finish line weren’t so lucky. News footage showed blood-splattered sidewalks, with runners and spectators scrambling for cover as the blasts went off. The injury count rose throughout the afternoon and evening, with reports of workers treating people with amputated limbs and other severe injuries.      

It appears Firelands-area runners walked away without injuries.

“Bravo to the police and race volunteers,” Schoen said. “They were incredible.” 


The Associated Press contributed to this story. 


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