RI Runners: Chaos Followed Explosion at Boston Marathon

Apr 15, 2013

Reports are coming in from Rhode Islanders who experienced the incident firsthand.  One North Kingstown runner finished the race moments before the explosions.  Frank Coseglia said he was a block and a half away when it happened, and wasn’t sure what was going on. 

“I had just finished the race and I was in the finisher’s corral, going through the process of getting post-race, you know the medals and blankets and stuff, when we heard the explosion,” said Coseglia.  “I turned around and we saw the smoke coming up - we couldn’t see the actual blast site other than where the smoke was.” 

Coseglia said he quickly found his family and friends and a police officer told people to start running. They ran for a few blocks and caught a cab to a friend’s house outside the city.

Kathleen Kelley from Harrisville Rhode Island had just finished her race when she heard the first explosion. “And I turned to the lady that was right next to me and I said, ‘what was that,’” said Kelley. “And we looked and we could see the explosion the debris hadn’t even hit the ground.  And we saw the smoke and everything, and I said, ‘it sounded like a cannon.’  Well just as I finished saying that, the second explosion happened.”

Kelley was not injured in the blast. She describes the atmosphere following the explosions as “controlled chaos,” and said she was impressed by the response of the staff and volunteers on the ground.

Providence Journal political columnist Edward Fitzpatrick was among those near the scene of the explosions. Fitzpatrick, an avid runner, had completed the 26.2-mile race and met up with his wife when he heard a loud noise. He thought it might have been a truck on a nearby interstate highway. Fitzpatrick then heard another bang and saw people crying. As he notes, the attack came on what is usually a celebratory day in Boston.

“To have this cowardly act mar the whole thing with violence, it really angers me and it’s heartbreaking for the victims,” said Fitzpatrick. “But I think it’s something where marathoners aren’t going to be deterred and they’ll just be smarter about the security in the future and come back strong next year.”

Fitzpatrick said the attack hit close to home since his wife was in stands near the finish line; she wasn’t injured.

Law Enforcement Investigating the Bombing

Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said there are no known additional threats and agents are following a number of leads. Authorities are looking for amateur video and photographic evidence that can give clues to who set off the bombs.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is requesting anyone with information or visual images of the Boston Marathon explosion call a hotline: The number is 1-800-225-5324. That's 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The Rhode Island National Guard said it has a support team in Boston working with law enforcement. Lt Col. Peter Parente said the team of less than 20 was asked to help out prior to the marathon. Parente said the civilian team is still there to help coordinate communications amongst various law enforcement agencies. He says none were near the bombing sights and none were hurt. It’s unclear how long they’ll stay in Boston.

RI Running Clubs Wait to Hear From Members

A Rhode Island physical therapist who works with runners said he’s waiting to hear from friends running the Boston Marathon.  Three people are dead and more than 150 injured after a pair of explosions near the finish line. 

Map of the Boston Marathon finish area
Credit Boston Athletic Association

Physical therapist Michael Silva knows 10 people running the marathon. By Monday evening he had heard from three who are trying to get out of the city. He said they seemed shaken and want to get out of Boston. Silva is shocked by the news, he said there seemed to be an extraordinary buzz about Monday’s race.

“You know the weather was almost ideally perfect for a marathon, social media was going crazy all weekend about people in town,” said Silva. “It just seemed like a lot more positive buzz to it this year than ever before, the last thing I expected.”

There were 156 Rhode Island runners registered for the Boston Marathon. That’s according to the Boston Athletic Association’s athlete tracker web site. Groups from two runners’ clubs are reported to have traveled together to Boston, they are the Tuesday Night Turtles and the Rhode Runners.  

David Principe is president of the Warwick running club Tuesday Night Turtles. He said most members of his club finished before the explosion. "Most of our running community members that we know are safe,” said Principe. “The problem is, you know, we know so many people all over New England. Still trying to dig up information to make sure that everyone, or everybody we know is safe.”

Principe said he’s reached out through Facebook and Twitter, but by Monday evening several running members haven’t been reached yet.

One runner, a Rhode Island state trooper, said he saw at least two dozen people with very serious injuries, including missing limbs. Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Greenville, R.I., had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the first blast.

"I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."

The Red Cross has an online searchable database for those who want to check on friends running in the Boston Marathon.


RI Leaders Respond to the Deadly Explosions

U.S. Senator Jack Reed released a statement saying his thoughts and prayers are with the victims. He thanks the first responders and volunteers helping the injured on the scene.  "I have faith that law enforcement will get to the bottom of this and hold whoever is responsible accountable to the fullest extent,” said Reed.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said he was shocked and saddened by news of the explosions. He said representatives of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, National Guard and State Police are in close contact with officials in Massachusetts and have offered their support.

Rhode Island's  attorney general is warning people wanting to make donations to the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions to watch out for scams. "If you do want to donate or offer to help, do so only through organizations you know to be legitimate," said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

Editor's Note: The AP contributed to this report.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org