I had finished the race and returned to the finish line to wait for my friend Tim and others to finish. I was standing alongside the race workers who were putting medals around the runners’ necks as they crossed the line. It was such a joyous occasion to see the look of accomplishment on the faces of the runners as they crossed the finish line, some holding their hands high above their heads praising God, some with tears in their eyes, all of them feeling victorious.
Then, the first bomb went off. The sound and feeling of tremor from the explosion was unlike anything I’ve heard or felt before. No one understood what was happening at first, but the initial confusion was soon replaced with sheer panic. Some runners continued to run toward the finish line, not understanding what was happening.
Just a few seconds later, a second explosion occurred. Crowds of people started running and screaming. The race workers dropped the medals and tables were overturned as the mass of people franticly tried to disperse. It was an eerie feeling, one I’ll never forget.
All I could think about was finding my friend, Tim. He had not made it across the finish line and I had no idea where he was.
I went to the group of buses that had race numbers posted on the windows and searched until I found his. I asked the volunteer if Tim had been there to pick up his belongings. She said no, he had not. I ran to the family meeting areas, all alphabetically separated. I ran to the last one first, since his last name begins with Z. He was nowhere around. I ran back to the L area. I didn’t see him. I ran back to the buses.
Tim still had not picked up his bag. At this time, the buses were starting to leave. The police were yelling through megaphones to clear the area. I jumped in the bus quickly, and asked if I could please have Tim’s bag. (Normally, without ID you are not allowed to pick up another person’s belongings. You have to show your race bib.) She threw me his bag and I jumped off just as the buses were pulling out.
I ran to the end of the street in the direction of the crowd. The police were still yelling to keep moving. People were running in all directions, but away from the site. I asked a police officer where to go, and told him I had to find my friend. He told me he was sorry, he couldn’t tell me and that I just needed to keep moving toward safety.
I stood there on the corner of the street, crying, cold, and feeling more alone in the world than I’ve ever felt. All I could think was, “I’ve got to find Tim; oh God, please let him be OK; please God, show me what to do, where do I go?” At that very moment, I felt an arm wrap around me. A couple was standing next to me. The lady put her arm around me and asked if I needed help. The man took the coat off his back and put it over my shoulders. I told them, through my tears, I couldn’t find my friend and didn’t know where to go. The man said “My name is Dale,” and told me the first thing we needed to do was to get out of there and get somewhere safe.
Dale asked me where I was staying. I told him the Sheraton. He said they had evacuated all the surrounding hotels and we needed to get as far away from them as possible. We ran several blocks before coming to a stop in front of a long row of brownstone homes. There were other people sitting on the curbs, waiting to be told what to do. By this time, the police had barricaded the surrounding roads. We sat and waited, too. The local people opened their homes to us. A man named Aaron brought out blankets, coats, and warm hats. I gave Dale his coat back and was given another one by Aaron. Two doors down, another man named Peter came out with a silver tray full of bagels and cream cheese. He also brought out coffee and hot tea. Although I was still scared, not knowing where my friends were, I also felt a sense of peace flow over me. I felt as if God was telling me, “All will be OK, just trust me.”
After several hours, we were able to leave the area to search for our families. The police told us they had re-opened all the hotels except for the Lenox. I prayed Tim and the others would return to the hotel. I hugged my new friends and tried to return the coat to Aaron. He told me he was a minimalist and had too many coats and that I needed it more than he did. I thanked him, Dale, and Peter. I said goodbye to all the people who were with me and asked directions back to my hotel.
As I was walking, I saw one of my friends, Kenneth Williams. I ran to him and hugged him, almost knocking him over. I told him I hadn’t found Tim and didn’t know what to do. He smiled and said, “Sandy, Tim is fine. I’ve seen him, and he is looking for you.” He told me to go to the hotel and stay there. He would find Tim and send him there. I reached the hotel and in the lobby all my friends were waiting. We all hugged one another and my friend Debbie and I cried together. Her husband John used his cell phone to call Tim’s phone. By this time, cell service had been turned back on. Tim answered, and John told him I was there. I ran to meet him.
I’ll never forget the help I received that day from the local Bostonians, who opened their homes and hearts to us all: Dale, who led me to safety from the middle of chaos; Aaron, who gave me a coat; and Peter who fed us. You see, these were all God’s angels. One of my favorite bible verses is Psalm 91:4. I saw it for the first time one day when I was out running. It was on the back of a truck window. It says; “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” God protected us that day. He sent out his army of angels all over the city of Boston.
I just want to say thank you to everyone for your prayers and concern. God has been with us through this tragic event..
For more personal accounts of the 2013 Boston marathon, click here.
All our most recently posted stories can be found on the BOSTONLOG homepage.