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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
Tragedy, up close and personal
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Tragedy, up close and personal

Seattle-area runners witnessed the Boston explosion

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

'This sort of thing doesn't really happen here,' you tell yourself as the news comes across your iPhone screen.

Some mornings you wake up to a nightmare. A nightmare is exactly what Americans - Bostonians, in particular - woke up to on April 15.

In just 15 seconds, two bombs placed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon exploded, killing three people including an eight-year-old boy and injuring more than 180 others. For those of us watching, it was a sickening reminder of past events that have played out in our cities.

Monday's senseless violence shows us that, sadly, 'this sort of thing' really does happen here. And on Monday, 'here' just happened to be downtown Boston.

WON'T BE DETERRED
Seattle boasts some of the healthiest and athletic residents in the nation. This is an outdoorsman's kind of place. There's hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and, of course, running.

The LGBTQ community in Seattle is no exception. In fact, when the bombs were detonated on Monday, members of a local LGBTQ walking and runners group, Seattle Frontrunners, were competing in the Boston Marathon.

On April 15, Seattle Frontrunners' Board of Directors released a statement from a member identified as Jon N., reporting, 'Andrew W. and myself have accounted for the Seattle FR who were running Boston. To set off an explosion at an event where people have worked so hard to get to and is a very upbeat event is very, very upsetting. I have experienced shock and anger that someone would do this. It will not, however, deter me from running Boston next year and in fact makes me want to run it more.

'The races of those who ran this year need to be celebrated as they worked very hard to get there and their results show it. Brian Punty had a PR [personal record] and ran a 2:53, Phil Brennan ran 3:06, Dan Laster had perfect splits and ran 3:15, Travis Westphal ran his first Boston in 3:24, and the 'surprise' was Ruben, who was a charity runner for PFLAG. It was his first marathon, which he finished in 3:33, having negative splits to boot, which is almost unheard of for a first marathon.

Our condolences for those who have died, wishes for a full recovery for those who were injured, and fast justice for those who committed this horrible act.'

EYEWITNESS REPORTS
An estimated 23,000 runners took part in the Boston Marathon. Among them were more than 500 registered from Washington state.

Everett resident Rob Ralph and his wife, Larissa, were a block or two from the first bomb that went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. In fact, Larissa, who was running her first Boston Marathon, had just crossed that line about a half-hour before the first explosion.

Ralph says he was standing near the site of one of the bombs with some friends while they waited for their wives to finish running.

'It was a deep blast, like nothing I've ever heard before,' he says. 'I could feel the ground shake under my feet.'

Ralph said, 'I still can't imagine how anyone could do this.'

Arlington school principal Faye Britt was running her fifth Boston Marathon when she saw people covered with blood and 'obviously in shock.'

A Lake Stevens man, 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, was almost to the finish of his third Boston Marathon when the explosion went off. He has a scraped knee from the fall, but otherwise is fine physically. Iffrig has been all over the news due to video footage released of the blast shows a runner, wearing an orange t-shirt and black shorts, being knocked to the ground. That was Iffrig.

Jason Campbell, of Seattle, was near the finish line when the blasts went off.

'All of the sudden there were just tons and tons of people running away from where we just were,' he says. 'So we joined in, and just started running.'

Tacoma artist Mandy Wilson told MyNorthwest.com that she wasn't planning on watching any of the race, but thought since she was in Boston for the day she should walk a couple of blocks to the finish line, not far from where she was staying with friends.

'I was there at the finish taking in the view, when BANG! Out of nowhere I heard that sound and it seemed like about 20 seconds later there was a second explosion. It knocked me off my feet. Immediately there was blood everywhere,' Wilson says.

A SHATTERED DREAM
It had always been a dream of Trish Keaton, a Seattle runner who had less than a mile to finish the Boston Marathon, to run the race. And on the morning of April 15, she could see her dreams coming true. Suddenly, everything changed.

'[The blast] was so loud my first thought actually was that it was a cannon,' Keaton said of the first explosion that went off several hundred yards ahead in an interview with KIRO radio's Andrew Walsh.

A bomb was the farthest thing from her mind.

'Just as I'm reacting and processing that, the second one went off, which was much closer to me. And not only the smoke came up, but also I saw flames,' said Keaton.

Suddenly, she says, the runners stopped, people began to panic and police officers rushed to the scene.

Keaton said a crowd was running toward them from the finish line and the blast sites.

A young man who had been close to the explosion ran past her. She described the scene as horrifying.

'I have never seen anything like this,' she said. 'This poor boy, his clothes were blown off him, practically. And he was covered with blood from head to toe.'

Just as Keaton put her arm around the young man to comfort him, a medic quickly rushed over to help.

Keaton learned that several friends also running had already finished or were behind her. The runners and tens of thousands of spectators walked solemnly together out of the city center and across Boston area bridges.

Keaton's dream has been ruined forever, she says. What was supposed to be one of the crowning achievements of her life will now only be remembered for something awful instead.

'It's hard because I can't get rid of that visual of those bombs going off,' she said. 'Now it's just this bomb explosion.'

'SUSPECTS' IDENTIFIED
The FBI has released footage of two men who they say are suspects in the bombing, which left three people dead and injured about 180.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said the FBI identified one individual at first, but after reviewing video and other evidence they determined that another individual was also implicated.

According to the FBI, one video shows a man wearing a white baseball cap dropping off a bag in front of the restaurant that was the site of the second explosion.

The FBI has asked for the public's help identifying the two men.

The images are from surveillance cameras along the marathon route. They show two young men wearing baseball caps (one cap is black, one white) and black winter coats. Both of them are carrying backpacks. In the video, the man wearing a white cap is seen walking closely behind the man wearing a black cap. The video and related still photos can be seen at www.fbi.gov.

Officials have posted this appeal for help: 'If you have any information that could be of assistance, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI (prompt #3). No detail is too small.'

The FBI said that no member of the public should try to apprehend the suspects because they are assumed to be 'armed and extremely dangerous.'

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