Pharos-Tribune

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April 16, 2013

Eyewitness to blood, smoke and panic at Boston Marathon

(Continued)

A sense of panic started creeping through the crowd. People were trying to call family and friends, but there was no cell phone service. Marathon workers were trying to calm people and keep the crowd behind the portable metal fences.

We kept taking pictures and video, tweeting as much as we could. Warning texts and tweets started pouring in from police and firefighters we knew telling us to "beware of a secondary explosion" and "stay clear of trash cans." And finally, a grim note from a great source: "Get the hell out of Boston now."

We had parked at the Boston Common garage, and slowly we started moving that way. Our cell phone batteries were dead. People were bewildered and confused. A man was desperately trying to reach a loved one on his cell phone. He kept yelling "Julia, Julia, Julia!" But nobody was on the other end.

We stood for a minute on Newbury Street, trying to figure out if we should stay or go. And we worried about our friends, Christian and John. We had followed them through the race through text alerts provided by the Boston Athletic Association. We didn't think they'd made it to the finish line yet. And we prayed we were right.

On Newbury Street, a woman, wrapped in a silver marathon blanket, sat in a wheelchair crying. She'd finished the marathon and made it away from the explosion. She wanted to call her mother. But her cell phone was dead, and she couldn't remember her mom's cell phone number. A marathon medic stood by her side, telling her she was going to help her find her family.

As we stepped onto the Common, a stranger came up next to us. He told us he was so happy we were OK.

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