A Worrisome Afternoon For Husbands Of Two Runners
By: Michael J. Rausch
The call came in just before 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. My friend, William E. Duggan Jr. of Canton and Highcrest Road in North Falmouth, and I were walking back to my car to drive into the city to meet up with our wives, Carol M. Duggan and Tammy G. Rausch of Canton and Kilmer Road, East Falmouth, after they finished the Boston Marathon.
We had just left the two runners after they made a quick stop at mile 21 by Boston College. As we walked down Hammond Street toward Route 9, Bill’s cellphone rang. It was his daughter, Christina D. Connors, who was near the finish line with her husband, Kevin F., and Carol’s sister, Kimberly C. Piro of Mansfield. That was when we heard about the explosions that would forever change the tenor of Patriots Day in Boston and the Boston Marathon.
“There was an explosion at the finish line,” Bill told me.
As Bill tried to get as many details as he could from Christina, I called the news desk at WHDH 7 News, where I had worked as a newswriter. The person working the desk said that they could only confirm that there had been an explosion, but they were still compiling details. “It’s breaking news right now,” they said.
Reaching my car and knowing that we had to get to Tammy and Carol, as well as Kim, Christina and Kevin, we drove into Boston, determined to get as close as possible to the finish line. Dozens of ambulances, police cruisers and fire engines passed us as we made our way down Huntington Avenue to the Sheraton Hotel where we had booked a room for the ladies to stay the night after their grueling run. The plan was to park there and then walk over to the corner of Hereford Street and Boylston Street, the last turn for runners before they head to the finish line, to cheer them on to the finish. We made it about a half block from the hotel, but police had already blocked off the area and told us to turn around and go back where we came from.
Knowing that Tammy and Carol were likely nowhere near the finish line when the blasts occurred, our biggest concern was how to connect with them given the possibility of other bombs going off. We suddenly realized that we could not place calls on our cellphones. Text messages were coming in on my cellphone, but I was driving and could not respond to them. All we had to work with was a GPS app that Bill had on his cellphone that allowed him to chart the progress of both Tammy and Carol during the race. As we drove through the chaos of police redirecting civilian traffic, and allowing emergency vehicles to make their way to the bomb site, Bill would tell me whether we were getting close to where our wives were.
Reaching Charlesgate, we wanted to exit from there down to Commonwealth Avenue but it was closed off by a police barricade. Instead, we took the next exit onto Storrow Drive and parked up at the corner of Beacon Street and Clarendon Street. We later found out that as we were on Charlesgate, Tammy and Carol were walking on an up ramp from Commonwealth Avenue to Charlesgate.
At Beacon and Clarendon, we were able to send text messages to Tammy and Carol, who said they were about a half-mile away. We drove up Beacon Street and after nearly an hour of worrying that we might never meet up with them, we found the two—cold, very tired and barely walking, but safe. Our concerns then turned to the other three who had witnessed the blasts and escaped the scene.
We made our way up Massachusetts Avenue, from Back Bay into Cambridge to pick up Kim, Christina and Kevin, who had been at Exeter Street, only a couple hundred yards from the finish line when the explosions went off. Christina said that when the first bomb went off, she thought it was in celebration of someone famous having crossed the finish line. When the second explosion happened, all three knew something bad had happened, and they ran down Exeter and into Cambridge. We found all three, shaken by the experience but unhurt, just outside Harvard Square.
We made our way past throngs of people in Harvard Square, out to Storrow Drive, through Brighton, onto the Massachusetts Turnpike and headed for home.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” Christina said more than once.
As reports came in on the car radio as to exactly what happened, we started to understand better the time line of the blasts, and we quickly realized that fortune had smiled on our runners in an ironic way. Carol had woken up sick Monday morning and almost decided not to run. Tammy convinced her that it was just nerves and she would be okay once the race began. Whatever was bothering Carol stayed with her, however, and slowed her down the entire race, fortunately. She was looking to run the marathon in about four hours, so had she run the race she was hoping for, she would have crossed the finish line, or been at the finish line, right about the time the explosions went off.