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April 15, 2013

Eyewitness to blood, smoke and panic at Boston Marathon

Editor's note: Near simultaneous explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday killed 3 people and wounded scores more. Reporter Jill Harmacinski was there to help cover the race for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass. The following is her first-person account of what happened.

BOSTON, Mass. -- We were looking for our friends, first-time marathon runners Christian Breen and John Brien, when we jarred by the first loud boom. Then we heard the second boom and saw white smoke mushrooming over the Boston Marathon finish line.

It sounded like cannons or guns going off. I went toward the explosion, as my friend, Lisa Driscoll, stepped back. We were 65 feet away - at the most - when two bombs went off at 2:50 p.m. yesterday at the marathon finish line. We had media passes and were inside the crowd-control fencing, standing right on Boylston Street.

Runners who had made it past the finish line turned around to see what was happening. Volunteers, security, police and paramedics all started running toward the smoke.

Medics started running out of a nearby medical tent with wheelchairs. Those people are trained to hydrate runners and massage exhausted muscles - not pick up dismembered bodies, Lisa later noted.

A medic pushing a wheelchair was sprinting away from the explosion site. In the wheelchair was a bloody runner who had half his leg missing.

Two other women covered in blood were also quickly pushed into the medical tent. A blood-covered man on a gurney was loaded into an ambulance.Another runner, a man wearing only black shorts, came calmly down Boylston Street. He was covered in blood splatter. People kept asking him if he was OK, but he just kept running.

Cruisers, ambulances and firetrucks started racing into the area. A runner ran up to police, saying he was trained in "mass casualty" incidents and telling them he knew what to do.

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