Local runner 100 yards from Boston Marathon blasts
April 18, 2013
Three South Lake Tahoe residents are unharmed after witnessing the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Les Wright, organizer of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, and his wife were standing yards from the finish line waiting for their friend Kristin Blocher to complete the marathon when the two bombs went off.
"We felt the concussions, saw the smoke. It rocks your body. The first thing I thought was, 'What are they doing shooting off cannons?," Wright said Monday.
The explosions killed three people — including an 8-year-old boy — and injured more than 170, according to the Associated Press. A senior U.S. intelligence official told the Associated Press that two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course.
According to Wright, police have taken a suspect in for questioning. No police reports were available Tuesday to corroborate that information.
Shandi Ashmore, another South Lake Tahoe runner registered for the marathon, injured her foot and did not race Monday, according to Wright.
Blocher, a South Tahoe High School alumnus, was about 100 yards from the finish line when the first bomb detonated. Blocher said she and many of the other runners immediately veered to the right away from the explosions.
"I was in between the bombs. I saw the first one go off and I thought it was a poorly-placed celebratory cannon blast… I was very lucky. People were screaming and crying. They were very scared," Blocher said.
Blocher, who was running in the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row, said medical teams were on site aiding victims within seconds.
"I was amazed by the phenomenal response by people to the needs of others. I'm sure I'll be more in shock when I'm less exhausted. Now I just want people to pray for the families that lost loved ones," she said.
Wright, who travels to the Boston Marathon annually to recruit and network, said the roads were packed 14-people deep near the finish line. It took Wright and his wife 15 minutes to walk half a block to the finish line, he said. There was no security for the spectators, something Wright anticipates will change at future events because of the explosions.
"I don't think it will affect runners coming back here, but it is going to affect event organizers," he said.
Wright said those security measures won't affect the Lake Tahoe Marathon. The local event draws only a fraction of the crowds that flock to Boston or London during the cities' running races, he said.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the bombs were made from kitchen pressure cookers, packed with nails and other shrapnel, hidden in duffle bags left on the ground.
President Barack Obama described the event as an "act of terrorism" in a public address Tuesday.
The Boston Marathon drew 23,000 runners this year, according to the Associated Press. It's the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon.
— The Associated Press contributed to the report.