Local families express relief following Boston Marathon

In the hours after a pair of deadly bombs ripped through the terminus of the Boston Marathon on Monday, it was shock, then horror, and then for many in the tri-city region who had ties to the race, a sense of relief.

More than 50 people — from Burbank to Pasadena and the communities in between — were signed up to run in the marathon. Their conditions could not all immediately be verified, but family members of some of the competitors who were reached by phone expressed deep relief after confirming that their loved ones were OK.

One of them was 17-year-old Alexa Dragojlovic of Glendale, whose mother, Kelly Dragojlovic, safely crossed the finish line just a half-hour before the explosions, which as of Tuesday had killed three people and injured more than 140.

Kelly Dragojlovic, who was not injured, and her husband were under lockdown at a hotel near the site of the explosion in the hours after the blasts, their daughter said.

"It's definitely really scary, but I am really happy she's safe," Alexa Dragojlovic said.

The explosions started at 2:42 p.m. local time, about two hours after the first runners had crossed the finish line. The second explosion occurred 13 seconds later about 100 yards away.

Images of severed limbs, blood-stained sidewalks and chaos quickly followed on social media networks as authorities rushed in to assist the injured. Among the dead was an 8-year-old boy.

Video footage showed stunned runners near the first blast site as smoke cleared to reveal twisted barricades and the carnage behind them.

Maryann Boosalis, a 26-year-old from La Cañada Flintridge, said she completed the 26.2-mile event roughly 45 minutes before the first explosion hit near the Boylston Street finish line. By that time, she was already in her hotel room with her mother.

"I had no idea that anything happened until I saw the breaking news on TV," she said. "It's scary and sad at the same time."

There were three other people from La Cañada who were registered in the Boston Marathon — Eamon Doyle, Aaron Wade and James Morehart. All were listed as having crossed the finish line.

For others, the call was closer.

San Marino resident Mark Hughes was just 200 yards away from the scene of one of the explosions, said his wife, who on Monday was anxiously awaiting his return flight.

Hughes, 36, was not harmed.

"It's been a crazy day," Danica Hughes said.

Her husband completed the marathon about a half-hour before the explosions, she added.

Soon after, he quickly headed for the airport for his return flight. With spotty cellular service in the Boston area, the couple hadn't had the chance to talk in depth about what he saw.

"I am glad he is safe and I am glad he is coming home," Danica Hughes said.

There were 32 runners registered to compete in the Boston Marathon from the Pasadena, South Pasadena and San Marino region. Their conditions could not be confirmed Tuesday.

For others, what had started as a missed opportunity turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Lisa-Marie Burnside woke up in her Burbank home Monday morning devastated that she wouldn't be running in the marathon.

The 28-year-old qualified this year after finishing the Los Angeles Marathon in just under 3 1/2 hours. But she pulled out of the race about three weeks ago because of financial burdens brought on after her father died suddenly.

Burnside — who was one of 17 people from the Burbank-Glendale-La Crescenta area registered to compete — was planning the trip to Boston with her best friend.

Canceling "was one of hardest decisions I've had to make," she said. "Because I've worked so hard for it — to qualify is so hard to do."

If the pair had gone, her friend would've likely been at the finish line waiting for her to cross at the time of the explosion, she said.

"It very well could have saved my life," Burnside said hours after news of the explosions hit. "The world, or whatever you believe in, was on my side today. It's surreal."

Burbank resident John Mattos, 46, was also supposed to compete in the marathon, but pulled out after hurting his foot.

"I was pretty bummed about it, but I feel kind of lucky now," he said. "It's horrible news."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed vows made by federal authorities that the perpetrators would feel the "full weight of justice."

"We will know much more in the coming hours and days about whether this was a home-grown plot, the product of self-radicalization, or a foreign-driven attack," the congressman said in a statement on Tuesday. "In the meantime, I will be working to make sure the intelligence community provides all necessary support to the investigation."

Meanwhile, airports across the region, including Bob Hope, ramped up security as a precaution. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was also put on heightened alert as the investigation into the explosions unfolded.

Staff writer Daniel Siegal contributed to this report.


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