“Complete carnage and bedlam,” is how Langley’s Al Mcbeth described the scene at the Boston Marathon finish line. Two explosive devices went off at the finish line on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring dozens more.
With sirens blazing in the background, Mcbeth spoke to Shelby Thom of CHNL Radio in Kamloops from his cellphone, shortly after the blasts occurred.
Along with his 22-year-old daughter Taylor Mcbeth, they were on the sidelines to support his wife Cathy Gutkowski who was expected, along with fellow Langley runner Paula Hillier, to come through the finish line just as the first blast went off.
“We were 1,000 feet form the finish line. It was 2:45 p.m. EST when there was a very loud explosion. The first thing I thought it was a cannon saluting Patriot’s Day,” said Mcbeth. “Then I saw glass, smoke and bodies flying all over the place. Taylor and I stood in the middle of the marathon lane and 30 seconds later the other explosion happened on the other side of us,” he said.
“There was people lying all over the road and sidewalk. I have a very graphic image of a police officer running down the street with a three-year-old boy in his arms saying to the boy ‘hang on, hang on.’ It was complete carnage and bedlam all over the place. Police, fire, every EMS device is in full use.”
It appears seven runners from Langley participated in the Boston Marathon: Jason Falkner, Angus Maclean, Mike Palichuk, Char Roberts and Athol Symonds, as well as Gutkowski and Hillier.
Three runners from Langley Peninsula Runners clinics who participated in the marathon have confirmed they weren’t hurt in the blasts, said Peninsula Runners Langley manager and clinics leader Kathie Schellenberg.
“They are shaken up but are OK,” said Schellenberg, who has ran in the Boston Marathon three times.
Because of Patriot’s Day, everyone has the day off locally, leaving many to line the race as fans.
“The race is lined from start to finish with people. The noise is amazing,” she said. The Boston Marathon is the most sought after, prestigious race and only marathon that requires runners to qualify.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to those who were hurt in this tragedy,” wrote a Facebook post by Langley Peninsula Runners.
The 2013 Boston Marathon database notes 241 of the nearly 27,000 race competitors hail from B.C.
South Surrey lawyer Alan Benson, 60, had finished the race and was about six blocks away when the bombs went off.
“All of a sudden we heard this massive explosion. I could see this huge ball of smoke where the finish line is,” Benson told Peace Arch News from his hotel about an hour later.
“I was worried about Dee (Makepeace, who started about 20 minutes behind Benson). I knew she was coming in after me, and I was worried about my wife and daughter because they were down not far from the finish line.”
As of Tuesday, there was no indication of anyone taking responsibility for the explosions.
It had been reported that cellphone service was shut down in the afternoon because the signal can be used to trigger a bomb. However, that report was later said to be false.
The JFK Presidential Library also had a fire, which may have been linked to the other explosions.
Three people were killed and 170 injured in the bomb blasts.
— With files from reporter Shelby Thom from CHNL Radio and Peace Arch News