When the two explosions hit the finish line of the Boston Marathon, some onlookers ran toward the blasts -- to help.
Confusion whirled around Boston after the explosions, which left at least two dead and more than 20 injured Monday, a day that had been devoted to one of the nation’s most famous races. Instead, blood streaked the sidewalk near the finish line, and runners, friends and family struggled to find one another as police raced to the scene.
Hayden Cardy, 18, of San Antonio, and his sister had just watched their mother cross the finish line a minute before seeing the explosions, and he was wrenched with fear.
“That was absolutely scary: having no idea where she was, what would happen next,” Cardy told the Los Angeles Times. “It was busy, and it was scary, and I’m just happy that my mom made it out.”
The conspicuous location of the blasts and the celebrated nature of the event raised the specter of a terrorist attack -- but that kind of speculation could not be confirmed so early after the tragedy, and Boston, and its guests, were left coping with the chaos.
“Given for someone to do this in front of Boston, on the national stage, it’s really tragic,” Kate Plourd, 28, of Boston, told The Times. She had finished running 20 minutes before the blasts hit and was being treated in a medical tent for post-race illness when she heard the first explosion. Officials soon cleared the tent.
“I got very emotional because many of my friends were behind me in the race,” said Plourd, who didn’t have her phone and was disconnected from her friends for a while, not knowing whether they were safe.
“There are a lot of runners walking around without blankets,” Chi-Ting Huang, 43, of Belmont, Mass., told The Times; she saw the aftermath of the blasts -- the smoke and the papers drifting up in the air -- while watching the race from the third story of a building down the street. “It’s pretty cold out if you haven’t been running. ... There are also a lot of very worried runners out there looking for friends.”
Jolyon Helterman, 43, a Boston food writer, told The Times he was at a marathon party one door down from where the blast happened.
"[The] explosion rocked my ear drums,” said Helterman, who also got debris in his eyes. He and 20 other marathon partiers huddled in the back of the building, trying to decide what to do, and “frantically” calling loved ones, he said.
“Finally, we decided to exit via fire escape,” he said. He popped out a window screen and made his way out.
As with any public event, much of the horror, clamor and confusion was documented over social media, which, when taken together, constituted the first draft of what happened in Boston on Monday, recreated below.
Warning: Many of the following tweets describe graphic accounts of the tragedy.
Soooo something just exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon!!!! They stopped the race and people were running the other way!!!! — Ash. (@AshNikkii) April 15, 2013
Omg there’s blood on the streets of Boston from the explosion ¿¿¿¿ — Juliet Winn (@Ch3ckYESJuliet_) April 15, 2013
Two explosions just rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Sirens galore. People running in fear. Wonder what happened. — Sarah Rodman (@SarahRodman) April 15, 2013
Was right at finish line as explosions went off. Am ok.Lots of people are not. — James O’Connor (@notoriousJOC) April 15, 2013
I was 150 feet away when the #bostonmarathon #explosion went off. I saw a young girl laying on the ground with multiple injurys — JHammann (@JohnHammann) April 15, 2013
22 injured. 2 dead #tweetfromthebeat via @cherylfiandaca — Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 15, 2013
just saw and felt a huge explosion @bostonmarathon @boston multiple deaths, legs blown off — JHammann (@JohnHammann) April 15, 2013
I saw people’s legs blown off. Horrific. Two explosions. Runners were coming in and saw unspeakable horror. — Jackie Bruno (@JackieBrunoNECN) April 15, 2013
Raw footage on the news shows BPD running towards the source of the explosion to get near those who were injured. #bravery at its finest — KC (@EYcostello) April 15, 2013
Reports of Marathon Runners that crossed finish line and continued to run to Mass General Hospital to give blood to victims #PrayforBoston — NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) April 15, 2013
Unbelievable. 26th mile of this year’s Boston Marathon is dedicated to the victims of Newtown. cbsloc.al/ZwtbXH — Jonathan Wald (@jonathanwald) April 15, 2013
The amount of ambulances I’m seeing fly by me is terrifying. #prayersforboston #bostonmarathon #boston — Miza (@vempriss) April 15, 2013
Dear Boston friends, please check in. — Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW) April 15, 2013
explosion on Boylston st hope everyone’s ok!! Working in the ER at Beth isreal, screaming n blood every where! #bostonmarathon #explosion — Carl Eloi (@noxwolf7) April 15, 2013